Clevedon Buffalo Co. has been named Supreme Champion of the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018, with another eight businesses receiving awards recognising the outstanding quality of their produce.

The top award comes ten years after founders Richard and Helen Dorresteyn became the first New Zealanders to commercially farm buffalo.

Today they milk 150 Riverine water buffalo on their farm near Clevedon south of Auckland, producing a range of mozzarella, yoghurt, marinated cheese and ricotta.

The food producers were assessed as the country's finest after 186 food products from 100 producers were assessed by a panel of judges in March.

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The majority of judging marks were for aroma, taste, quality, with a further 20% for brand story, product and pack design and sustainability.

The Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2018 Champions are:
Supreme Champion; Clevedon Buffalo Co – Clevedon Marinated Buffalo Cheese (Auckland)
Fresh.co.nz Dairy Champion; Clevedon Buffalo Co – Clevedon Marinated Buffalo Cheese (Auckland)
Ara Wines Paddock Champion; Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats – Gourmet Whole Lamb Box (Wairarapa)
Farro Earth Champion; The Clareville Bakery – Miche Sourdough (Masterton)
Water (Sea/fresh water) Champion; Genevieve's Mahurangi Oyster Mousse (Auckland)

Another five food producers were recognised with Special Awards:
NZ Life & Leisure Spirit of New Zealand: Turk's Poultry - Turk's Corn-Fed Free Range Fresh Butterflied Chicken Sriracha Chilli & Lime (Foxton)
T & G Global Outstanding Sustainability Award - Jersey Girl Organics A2 Organic Milk (Waikato)
Label & Litho Outstanding Pack Design - The Lucky Taco Habanero Hot Sauce (Auckland)
FMCG Business Outstanding New Product - The Whole Mix Spiralised Vegetable Noodle Range (Marton)
Marvellous Marketing Outstanding Drink - Hill Road Fresh Orange Juice (Gisborne)

Head judge, New Zealand food writer and advocate for local produce, Lauraine Jacobs congratulated all the entrants, saying the standard of produce was incredibly high.

"It's always a pleasure to taste and experience fine food that is grown and produced in New Zealand and this year's judging of the awards was very exciting.

"We found it hard to separate the entries, especially at the top of each category, but our teams of judges did a sterling job.

"They tasted and evaluated every entry 'blind' which meant that they could truly concentrate on the products."

Also announced at the awards were the People's Choice winners:
Coast Outstanding Producer, Clevedon Herbs and Produce (Auckland)
Coast Outstanding Product, Lakes Farm Classic NZ Steak with Aged Gouda (Waikato)
New Zealand's Outstanding Farmers' Market, Clevedon Farmers' Market (Auckland)