salon-de-lagriculture-photo-9The Concours Général Agricole cheese judging took place on 1 March 2010 at the Porte de Versailles in Paris. A total of 417 medals were awarded for all different types of French cheese including 131 gold, 147 silver and 139 bronze medals.

Comté PDO was a particularly strong cheese in this year’s competition winning 23 medals. Saint-Nectaire Fermier PDO and Reblochon Fermier PDO followed closely behind winning 18 and 13 medals respectively.

This year, the Concours Général Agricole started on 27 February and featured three types of competition: produce (cheese, wine and other products), breeding animals and the judging competition for agricultural students. The CGA (General Agricultural Competition) has been running annually since 1870 and was set up to reward the best French agricultural products. The competition is instigated and regulated by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and there are many rounds which take place regionally culminating in the CGA in Paris. There are 3,400 individual judges, representative of the entire food chain: from producers to buyers. The competition is split into 23 categories with 3,600 food products, 14,000 wines and 2,000 animals being entered.

The competition gives consumers a quality standard to look for when shopping, allows producers to compare the quality of their product to others’ and adds great value to the produce. If a medal is awarded it demonstrates a very high quality; fewer than 23% of entries receive a medal and fewer than 8% of entries receive a gold medal.

The Concours Général Agricole takes place at the same time as the 47th Salon International de l’Agriculture, the international agricultural show, with 1,053 exhibitors and 700,000 visitors over the week. This year also saw the return of the biennial cheese trade fair, the Salon du Fromage, at the same venue. This is the largest showcase for French PDO dairy products with 44 of the current 45 PDO products being represented at the exhibition. Some 6,000 trade members visited the 150 exhibitors who included producers, cooperatives, importers and cheese and dairy product specialists.

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