Pick n Pay joined the impressivejudging panel of 60 experts from South Africa’s dairy industry at this year’s South African Dairy Championship.

Spanning over two days (24 and 25 Feb. 22 2022), the judges were tasked with judging around 900 entries from some of the country’s biggest and most prestigious brands. 

Now in its 189th year, the event is one of the oldest and biggest dairy events in the country. The competition is aimed at recognising the finest dairy producers in South Africa and they are judged on specific criteria by leaders in the field.

Frikkie Van Niekerk, Pick n Pay’s Head of Fresh Product Development, was selected to judge the Cheese and Butter category, as well as the “Other Dairy Product” category, which includes yoghurt and milk.

Van Niekerk says it was an honour being invited to be a judge at such an established world-class competition. “Pick n Pay is significantly investing in repositioning its cheese and dairy category over the next 12 months, and being involved in such an established competition within the industry will further help up build our credibility in the months to come, both within the industry and amongst customers.

Frikkie is no stranger to critically analysing cheese and dairy products. Beginning his career in the snacking industry as a young food technologist, his first job in the dairy industry was with Clover. It was here that he conducted much of his dairy training which included extensive sensory evaluation courses. Prior to joining Pick n Pay nearly five years ago –  where dairy has always been within his portfolio – Van Niekerk was a technical manager for Dairy & Protein at Woolworths for three years.

Over two days, Van Niekerk, judged 130 different products. He says he is excited to take the learnings from the tastings and use it to further improve Pick n Pay’s cheese and dairy proposition. 

Angelique Swart, Pick n Pay’s Product Development Manager for Dairy and Protein, was also a judge. Participating on day two of the competition, she judged over 60 products within the “Other Dairy Product” category. Swart has vast experience in the dairy industry having closely worked with key brands in industry, including Danone, Clover, Parmalat, and Dairy Made.

“The judging process has exposed us to different local and locally produced products across the country and will further help us deliver the best products to Pick n Pay customers. Our Dairy category is very important for customers and we’ll be taking the knowledge we’ve learnt at the competition when innovating key aspects of our range, especially our Own Brand offering.

“Everything is always done with the customers in mind and we want to become the ultimate cheese destination for customers. By having the opportunity to join the judging panel of the South African Dairy Championship, we can deliver the best of the best to our customers,” says Van Niekerk.

“We would like to thank Agri Expo and all the sponsors for this well planned and executed panel of judging at the South African Dairy Championship. The competition recognizes extraordinary products and continues to hold the industry to such a high standards for its customers,” concludes Van Niekerk.