A team of graduate students from North Carolina State University won first place in the National Dairy Council New Product Competition. They students received the $8,000 first prize during the Institute of Food Technology’s annual meeting in Chicago in July. Teams from Penn State University and Ohio State University were awarded prizes of $5,000 and $3,000 for second and third place, respectively.

“We’re very excited and honored to win the New Product Competition,” said NCSU student Kyle McLean. “We worked very hard on it. It’s great to be acknowledged and see our hard work pay off.”

The theme of this year’s competition was to create a protein-rich beverage that targets people between 19 and 34. NCSU’s Shake and Go Kefir is an on-the-go breakfast that is an excellent source of protein. The drink combines a serving of chunky strawberries (or blueberries, raspberries or blackberries) with a serving of dairy in separate layers.

The Penn State team developed a skim milk and black chia seed beverage called Chilk-Out. The Ohio State’s entry was a relaxation drink made with low-fat milk and honey, using L-theanine and valerian root extracts as relaxation agents.

Through the competition, six student teams from universities around the country worked on every step involved in bringing a new beverage to market – similar to working for a food company. In little more than two months each team formulated a new beverage, created packaging, conducted a cost analysis, and developed a pricing and marketing strategy. The judging panel was made up of dairy processors, dairy farmers and food journalists, including Dairy Foodseditor Jim Carper.

 “In our school work we focus so much on science and facts that this competition has been a great experience for us to simulate what it would be like to be in the industry as opposed to sitting in a classroom,” said Claire Svendsen, of the NCSU team.