AFTER creaming some prestigious cheesemakers at a premier dairy show, Aldi has hit back at allegations they are "philistines".
Artisan dairy producers have heaped scorn on the German multinational after its butter, cheese and yoghurt stormed the Sydney Royal cheese and dairy show, collecting eight individual gold medals and 41 silver medals in its maiden year, The Australian reports.
But the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW is refusing to expel Aldi from future competition, insisting all cheesemakers should compete on the same level playing field.
"What Aldi has proven is that they sell dairy produce of exceptionally good quality, as judged by the experts," said general manager of agriculture George Davey.
"The boutique producers can compete (alongside Aldi) and if their produce reaches the same level of quality, they can have a gold, too."
Mr Davey said there was no limit to the number of gold medals that could be awarded in each category. He said the prizes awarded to Aldi would mean more agricultural jobs in regional Australia.
But Australian Specialist Cheesemakers Association treasurer Michael McNamara, who owns Pecora Dairy in NSW's Southern Highlands, said he feared the rise of generic brands in supermarkets was reducing farmers to "just another link in a supply chain".
"The show is supposed to be about producers and Aldi is about marketing and retailing," he said. "The other issue I have is that the Royal is allowing these sorts of processed or industrial classes to (be judged).
"There's now a category for best grated cheese, best processed cheese, best sliced cheese."
Aldi also won the prestigious "champion butter" award for its organic butter, prompting Pepe Saya - supplier to Neil Perry's Rockpool and Matt Moran's Aria restaurants - to brand the chain "philistines".
Aldi Australia spokeswoman Annike Morgan yesterday made no apologies for providing "high quality products at a low price", adding 94 per cent of its dairy products were Australian-made.
"Many of our cheese suppliers run small local operations, while others are somewhat larger with production facilities throughout Australia," she said. "The cheeses entered were expertly sourced from a number of regions throughout Australia."
Read more at The Australian.