Three individuals and one dairy processing company were honored during the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) Dairy Forum, held Jan. 26-29 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

On Jan. 26, Andrei Mikhalevsky, former president and CEO of California Dairies Inc., was greeted by a standing ovation from hundreds of his peers from across the dairy industry when he received the inaugural International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Laureate Award. The IDFA Laureate Award is given to a leader in the dairy industry who has made significant, prolonged contributions to the development and growth of dairy. Candidates from across the dairy industry, as well as suppliers and academics, are eligible, and the awardee is chosen by a panel of industry professionals, Washington, D.C.-based IDFA said.

Visalia, Calif.-based California Dairies Inc. is the nation’s second-largest dairy processing cooperative. Mikhalevsky was named president and CEO in November 2011 and began serving his term on Jan. 1, 2012, retiring at the end of 2019 after eight years, IDFA said.

His career spans more than 40 years, and he has held a variety of leadership positions within the dairy industry. Previously, he served as the managing director of global ingredients and foodservices at Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s largest dairy exporter. Mikhalevsky built many of Fonterra’s global customer partnerships and oversaw the company’s research and innovation division and its branded business in Latin America, IDFA said.

The following day, IDFA recognized and celebrated the outstanding 35-year-plus career of Cary Frye, the association’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs.

Frye leads IDFA’s regulatory team, covering the areas of food safety, food defense, federal standards of identity, labeling, international Codex Alimentarius standards, nutrition policy and environmental and worker safety. With extensive experience in dairy product processing and quality assurance, she has served IDFA member companies for 20 years, representing companies on food labeling and standards of identity, ingredient technologies, nutrition and health issues, and product safety, IDFA said.

Frye is an active participant of the International Dairy Federation (IDF), chaired the U.S. affiliate to IDF and is a member of the IDF Standing Committee on Standards of Identity and Labeling. She has been active in international standard-setting, advising U.S. delegations on Codex standards, and has served as the head delegate for IDF at the Codex Committee on Food Labeling, IDFA noted. She has also served on the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments’ Executive Board and Liaison Committee.

Frye also is a co-founding member of IDFA’s Women in Dairy Network, which brings established leaders together with young professionals to create a forum that fosters mentoring, supports development, builds networking opportunities and encourages leadership.

“Cary’s personal fortitude, integrity and knowledge of dairy labeling and regulation are simply unapproached in our industry,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, as he honored Frye during Dairy Forum. “When questions arise on complex matters, there is a saying in the dairy industry: ‘Call Cary. Call Cary because she is a wonderful person and wonderful to work with. Call Cary because she will get you a detailed answer to your question or challenge. Call Cary because you trust and value her judgement.’

“Cary Frye has made huge contributions to the success of U.S. dairy, and today we celebrate her legacy,” he added. “Thank you, Cary.”

Frye will retire from IDFA at the end of June 2020.

On Jan. 27, IDFA also presented its 2020 Food Safety Leadership Award to Edith Wilkin, staff vice president and fellow, food safety and regulatory compliance for Denver-based Leprino Foods Co. The award, now in its fourth year, honors an individual, group or organization for demonstrating outstanding leadership directed at enhancing food safety within the dairy products industry, IDFA said.

“Edith not only served as chair of the Food Safety Initiative with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy during its inception, she also led, developed and published traceability standards for dairy processors that have become the gold standard across the industry,” said John Allan, IDFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards. “Edith is a unique and influential food safety expert who shares her knowledge and science-based food safety insights with colleagues and mentees across the dairy industry.”

And during the luncheon on Feb. 28, Kathie Canning, editor-in-chief of Dairy Foods, presented the magazine’s 2019 Processor of the Year award to Montreal-based Saputo Inc. The company was honored for its impressive growth via acquisitions, investments in assets and innovation, and commitment to supporting the communities in which it operates. Lino Saputo, Jr., chair of the board and CEO of the company, accepted the award on Saputo’s behalf.

Dairy Foods honored Saputo for its outstanding recent achievements in its December 2019 cover story.