Innovations highlighting milk’s functional benefits could score $650,000 in prizes from Real California Milk Excelerator

Will Kreznick

Seeking applicants now through June 25, the Shark Tank-esque Real California Milk Excelerator​ is offering up to $650,000 in prizes for early-stage, high-growth potential dairy innovations that not only showcase cow milk’s performance and recovery benefits, but also can open the door for California dairy farmers to access the fast-growing […]

Seeking applicants now through June 25, the Shark Tank-esque Real California Milk Excelerator​ is offering up to $650,000 in prizes for early-stage, high-growth potential dairy innovations that not only showcase cow milk’s performance and recovery benefits, but also can open the door for California dairy farmers to access the fast-growing functional foods market, which is projected to reach more than $275bn globally by 2025.

“We’re looking for products that have functional benefits. In the first case, related to focus, energy, endurance, strength – those kinds of things are more performance oriented. And then for recovery, it’s more about rejuvenation, relaxation, gut health and even sleep,”​ John Talbot, CEO of CMAB, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained the competition is focused on functional benefits because consumers increasingly are looking for more from their foods and beverages than just taste – a trend accelerated by the pandemic and the desire to treat food as medicine.

Beyond performance and recovery, the competition is looking for early stage ideas or products in market that currently have less than $250,000 in sales to date, added Fred Schonenberg, founder of VentureFuel, Inc.

“One of the most exciting prize packages”

To help scale innovations that fill this bill, the Real California Milk Excelerator is offering a suite of prizes that will accelerate development without diluting businesses.

“A lot of times in these programs, someone is taking a little less than 10% of your company to enter, which is a huge chunk of your business, and if you’re a really serious entrepreneur that is usually not of interest,”​ said Schonenberg, adding that the Excelerator doesn’t do this because it wants entrepreneurs to grow their own businesses.

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