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ago 17, 2017

Brazilian cheeses win international recognition

Loved by Brazilians but little-known among international tastemakers, Brazil’s Minas cheese has grabbed international attention in 2017. Homemade Minas cheeses from small Brazilian producers won awards at France’s prestigious Mondial du Fromage 2017 competition.

Nine Brazilian entrants won 12 of the competition’s awards, placing them ahead of approximately 700 other entrants from 20 countries. Túlio Madureira, whose Minas cheese won a silver and a bronze, said that the cheese’s prominence among the world’s best demonstrates the high quality of its production.

A particular highlight is the cheese from producer Marly Leite. Hailing from the Caxambu farm in Minas Gerais’s Araxá region, the cheese won a ‘Super Gold’ in addition to a gold. The cheese, which is only sold by one shop in Brazil, is now considered the best in the world in its category. It will travel further than São Paulo’s Galeria de Queijo where it is currently sold, to Belo Horizonte’s artisanal Minas cheese festival.

According to Madureira, who also serves as the president of Faemg’s (Federation of Agriculture and Livestock of Minas Gerais) cheese commission, producers’ innovation is a key factor in Brazil’s success in the competition. In particular, willingness to experiment with different fungi to mature the cheese helped develop taste and texture of the Minas cheeses.

Marly Leite’s cheese is one of the entrants owing its success to fungi. Leite has been producing cheeses since 1992, but last year learned about new maturation techniques using fungi. Speaking to Brazilian publication O Tempo, he said that the cheese “becomes a sweet and more mature, has a more creamy consistency”.

Nor is Leite the only Brazilian to earn one of the Mondial do Fromage’s prestigious awards thanks to fungi experiments. Madureira’s own cheeses awarded in the competition took advantage of the fungi. According to the producer, fungus discovered by a partnership between regional producers in the Serra region and the Federal University of Lavras was essential to the experiments that resulted in the award-winning cheeses.

But customers wishing to try the now-prestigious cheeses will have to contend with a waiting list, as the small producers anticipate how they may address increased demand. Leite has no plans to up production, sticking at around 50 pieces per day. Madureira, meanwhile, said that his team is in the process of figuring out how they can produce a greater quantity to meet demand.

Other silver medalists were Canastra cheese from Capela Velha, Vale da Gurita and Produtor Reinaldo de Faria Costa. Meanwhile, two Serra cheeses from Cooperativa do Serra plus Madureira’s Kankrej Serra and Quiejos Cruzília’s Santo Casamenteiro cheeses also won silvers. Bronzes were awarded to Osvaldo Martins de Barros Filho, Madureira’s Gir and Sabores do Sítio’s Campo das Vertentes.