Perfect score earns Gay Lea Grass-Fed Butter Grand Champion crown at The Royal

For the first time in memory a perfect score was recorded in the annual Canadian Cheese & Butter Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair when Gay Lea Grass-Fed Salted Butter was crowned Grand Champion in this year’s competition presented by Dairy Farmers of Ontario at the 100th Anniversary Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

Comments by judges on the score sheets are telling: Beautiful texture, smooth body, excellent colour, super clean flavour.

Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, with more than 1,400 dairy farms across Ontario and Manitoba as members, has butter-making down pat. Its Grass-Fed Salted Butter scored a perfect 100.00 to win Grand Champion and its category. Gay Lea Sea Salted Butter scored 99.5, its Gras-Fed Unsalted scored 98.5, both winning their respective categories.

Cows that feed on fresh grass produce the best cheese and butter.

Gay Lea’s grass-fed butters have a distinct yellow colour, rich flavour and silky mouthfeel. And they are healthy as butter can be.

Experts in health and nutrition tell us that grass-fed butter is a good source of vitamin A and the antioxidant beta carotene. It also has a higher proportion of healthy, unsaturated fats and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) than regular butter.

What’s more, it provides vitamin K2, a form of vitamin K that plays an important role in your bone and heart health. Overall, grass-fed butter is a relatively healthy alternative to regular butter when consumed in moderation.

Technical Judge Barry Reid.

What makes grass-fed butter better?

We asked Barry Reid, one of the technical judges in the RAWF competition. Born into a cheesemaking family, Barry’s father was a cheesemaker for 30+ years, Barry was, too, for 15 years. For 20 years following, Barry was a full-time dairy inspector with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency based out of Belleville, Ontario. For the past 35 years, Barry has judged cheese and butter competitions.

“The freshness of the grass. The sunshine. Nature always produces the best if you look after it. No sprays or chemicals, et cetera.

“Hay stored in buildings for any extended period of time will deteriorate over time. But climate, especially in Canada, dictates we do this.

“Cows help the process along if they are not stressed, if they have a good life environment, with lots of water and good feed.”

As award-winning cheesemakers have told us many times over the years: It all begins with the grass. Happy cows produce the best milk—which makes the best cheese and butter.

Butter is typically made from cow’s milk. Essentially, it’s the fat from milk in solid form. It’s made by churning milk until the butterfat separates from the buttermilk.

In the 2022 Cheese & Butter Competition at The Royal, there were 195 entries submitted by producers across Canada. Judging took place June 10. Complete results are posted at

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Support for the competition was provided by the Presenting Partner, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, which has made over $30,000 in prize money available, as well as Metro which supports the competition and presents the Champions Showcase during The Fair.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair celebrates 100 years of world-class equine and agricultural excellence on November 4-13, 2022, at Exhibition Place in Toronto. It is the world’s largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian show.

The Royal draws more than 300,000 visitors to Toronto annually to see thousands of unique entries from elite Canadian and international breeders, growers and exhibitors, more than 4,500 large and small animals, shows, activities, shopping, dining and—of course—The Royal Horse Show.

Come and experience The Royal, there’s truly something for the entire family. Click here for information and tickets.