Cows have long been the stars of Wisconsin's dairy industry, but goats and sheep will share a bigger portion of the spotlight when the World Championship Cheese Contest begins Tuesday in Madison.
The record 2,615 cheese and butter entries include more than 350 made with goat, sheep or mixed milk. That's an increase of nearly 18 percent from the last competition in 2012.
The contest organizer and experts in food trends say the tougher competition among so-called alternative milk cheeses reflects greater participation from Europe -- where goat and sheep milk cheeses are more common -- and Americans' seemingly unending desire for novelty.
Consumer research analyst Harry Balzer says Americans are eating more cheese in general and substituting goat cheese for cheddar on a sandwich can liven up their meals.