Pepper-Jack cheese produced under the Heritage Ridge Creamery brand at Michigan Milk Producers Association’s (MMPA) Middlebury, Ind., cheese plant was recently named the Grand Champion in the National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) Champion Cheese Contest. The award was presented by NMPF at the federation’s annual meeting, which was held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 in Anaheim, Calif.

The annual contest includes cheese made by dairy cooperatives belonging to NMPF, MMPA noted. A record 194 entries totaling 3,070 pounds of cheese products were submitted into the 2017 contest. Heritage Ridge pepper-jack placed first in the hot or spicy cheese category and then went on to win the overall best cheese prize, MMPA said. This is the first year MMPA has entered a product in the cheese contest.

“We are honored our product was recognized nationally, a testament to high-quality milk from our farms and the craftsmanship of our cheesemakers,” said Jim Feeney, senior director of sales for the MMPA. “We strive to exceed our customers’ expectations everyday with the quality products in our portfolio.”

The Heritage Ridge Creamery brand markets cheese produced at the Middlebury plant and sold in the on-site retail store. The cheese plant produces Colby cheese, a softer, milder flavored cheddar cheese, in addition to cheddar, pepper-Jack, Amish Creamery cheese and other flavors, MMPA said.

Heritage Ridge Creamery is a brand of Middlebury Cheese Company LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of MMPA. The farmer-owned cooperative acquired the facility in 2016 and is currently reviewing options to increase capacity and expand product offerings.