You’ve heard about the uptick in snacking thanks to the pandemic. But perhaps no one is taking the rise of snacks more seriously than the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). Today, the organization announced the return of its product innovation competition dubbed the Real California Milk Snackcelerator.
The competition looks for food producers that integrate the flavor and functionality of California dairy products into snacks. A blog post outlining the contest lists several products that “speak to the type of innovation” CMAB “is looking for.” Those products include a Keto- and diabetes-friendly ice cream treat, probiotic snack bars, Kombucha yogurt, and something called “cheese wraps.”
“The goal of this competition is to tap into our global obsession with snacking to inspire new ideas and help clear the hurdles to bringing these products to market,” CMAB CEO John Talbot said in today’s press release.
As of the end of June, snack consumption was up 8 percent, according to NPD. And in today’s press release, CMAB cites Mondelez International, which recently found that 59 percent of adults worldwide prefer snacking to meals.
Companies interested in CMAB’s competition should have products that use cow’s milk as their first ingredient and making up 50 percent or more of their formula. Companies that win must commit to producing their products in California, using California dairy farms for milk.
Up to eight companies will get “up to $10,000 of support” to develop a prototype as well as mentorship and guidance around packaging, distribution, marketing, and other areas of running a food business. They also receive an all-expenses-paid “business development trip” where they will tour dairy farms and meet individuals in that industry. The overall winner gets “up to $200,000 worth of support to get their new product to market.”
While the snacks market is thriving, the dairy industry has had a rougher time of it lately. U.S. milk sales have been declining for decades, especially with the rise of plant-based alternatives. Two major milk producers so far, Dean Foods and Borden Dairy, have filed for bankruptcy.
However, sales of dairy rose thanks to the pandemic: From January through July 18, U.S. milk retail sales were up 8.3% to $6.4 billion, according to Nielsen. And the sector definitely has its pockets of innovation, with a notable example being the Dairy Farmers of America’s startup accelerator, which has a similar mission statement to that of CMAB: to bring more agility and innovation into the dairy sector.
Still, dairy companies have a long haul ahead of them. Finding nimble, innovative startups with new approaches to dairy products could help the industry stay relevant at a time when alternative protein is steadily on the rise. Feeding into the highly popular market for snacks doesn’t hurt, either.
Applications for the Snackcelerator are open until August 28, 2020.