The Guild of Fine Food announced that the World Cheese Awards will not take place in Spain this year, amid ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, instead opting to extend Oviedo’s tenure as host city into 2021. Now set to take place Nov. 3-6, 2021, the 33rd edition of the competition will assemble the global cheese community at Oviedo’s Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos as part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival 2021.

“It saddens me deeply to make this announcement, at a time when artisan cheesemakers could do with a lift, but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve had to consider what’s best for our hosts, the competition itself and by extension, the cheesemakers that rely on it to place their products on a world stage,” said John Farrand, managing director of the U.K.-based Guild of Fine Food, organizers of the World Cheese Awards. “Each year, we unite the global cheese industry in one city and leave a lasting legacy, but for obvious reasons it’s just not appropriate to mobilize the cheese world on such a large scale right now.

“Furthermore, we feel that the unique nature of the World Cheese Awards would be compromised in the current circumstances,” he added. “We’re committed to educating our 250 judges and thousands of visitors about a new cheese region or country each year, while teaching thousands of consumers about artisan cheese during tutored tastings, so with limits on personal interaction, the very essence of the event would be undermined."