A new milk product that tastes just like chocolate chip ice cream and a pomegranate blueberry cream cheese dip are the most innovative new dairy products, according to a recent competition judged by dairy professionals.

The Most Innovative Dairy Products contest, sponsored by TIC Gums, recognized the latest creative milk or dairy beverages and cultured dairy products. The awards were presented at the International Dairy Foods Association's 2009 Milk and Cultured Dairy Symposium, which took place March 31-April 2 in Kansas City, Mo.

Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.'s creative take on a classic - mint chocolate chip ice cream - earned the company IDFA’s Most Innovative Milk or Dairy Beverage Award for its Intense Mint Chip Milk. Schreiber Foods, Inc. won the award for Most Innovative Cultured Dairy Product for its American Heritage Pomegranate Blueberry Dip.

"When the opportunity arose to sponsor the Most Innovative Milk and Cultured Dairy contest, we jumped at the chance to support cutting-edge dairy manufacturers," said Tim Carter, sales manager at TIC Gums. TIC Gums supplies a complete line of gums and gum systems to the U.S. food industry. "Our dairy innovations have continued into 2009 and so did our interest in supporting dairy innovators and the contest."

The 2009 Milk and Cultured Dairy Symposium explores cutting-edge innovations in the use of ingredients, processing technology, analytical methods, packaging and product development for milk and dairy beverages and for cultured products, such as yogurt, sour creams, buttermilk and cottage cheese.

"Winning the Most Innovative Dairy Beverage award is a great accomplishment for us – it means a lot to be recognized by our peers, who are all dairy experts with more refined palates than most consumers," said Eva Balazs, product manager at Upstate Niagara Cooperative. "Intense Mint Chip Milk joined our other milkshake-like flavors, such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, matching the bold, indulgent taste of the popular mint chip ice cream."

"Schreiber Foods is fortunate to have such talented market, development and research teams working on behalf of our customers," said Deborah Van Dyk, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs for Schreiber Foods. "While we take considerable pride in being recognized by our dairy industry peers for outstanding innovation, we take even more pride in being responsive to evolving consumer tastes and preferences that deliver strong sales for our retail customers."

IDFA thanks TIC Gums and Cintas Corporation, the symposium's premier sponsor, as well as the exhibitors for recognizing the importance of the symposium to the industry. The exhibiting companies were Bienca S.A., California Custom Fruits and Flavors, DairyChem, Danisco USA Inc., Delkor, GTC Nutrition, Integrated Packaging Machinery, RealWorld Communications Inc. and SunOpta, Inc.

Presentations will be available online later this month at www.idfa.org.

Credit: The International Dairy Foods Association