The two artisan cheese makers from Munster won the Coup de Coeur prize, awarded to eight exceptional cheeses, following a blind tasting by a jury of nine chefs and cheesemongers. The winners were selected from 72 entries from 100 producers.
Based in Cappagh, Co Waterford, the Little Milk Company, which was formed in 2008, involves 10 family-run organic dairy farms in Munster and Leinster.
Collectively, their total milk pool is a significant three million litres per annum — the organic liquid milk market is estimated at five million litres including imports from Northern Ireland.
They began producing premium cheddars and soft cheeses.
They are all made with local organic ingredients.
Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers, based in Fethard, was established in 1984 by Louis and Jane Grubb to create a cheese that truly represents the outstanding quality of Tipperary grass-fed milk.
Today, 31 years later, in the hands of the second generation, their celebrated Cashel Blue cheese, one of its many products, is still made by hand on the same 200 acre farm.
The Salon trade event, which ended yesterday, showcased 190 artisan dairy producers from 12 countries.
Over 6,000 buyers and visitors, mainly French, attended the event over four days.
Bord Bia arranged meetings with buyers for the seven Irish companies who participated at the event on the Ireland-Origin Green stand.
Ireland had the second largest non-French presence at the show and according to Noreen Langan, Bord Bia manager for France and Belgium, there has never been a better time to introduce French buyers to Irish farmhouse cheese.
“French cheesemongers now stock on average 16 foreign cheeses from their selection of 130, representing around 10% of their turnover.
“According to new trade research, over 30% of cheese shops intend to increase their range of imported cheese.
“This is already translating into a significant increase in Irish artisan cheese to France, which has trebled since our presence at the Salon two years ago and now amount to about 18 tonnes per year,” she said.