A team of students from Pennsylvania State University took first place in the National Dairy Council's New Product Competition in April. At the American Dairy Science Association's annual meeting in Pittsburgh, the team was awarded the first prize of $8,000. Teams from Kansas State University and University of Wisconsin were awarded second- and third-place prizes of $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.

The Penn State team won the top honor for their dairy beverage concept, FüZen, a beverage that utilizes a unique dual-bottle packaging designed to support the busy, healthy lifestyle of young adults. The beverage gives the option to drink from each 8-ounce side individually (chocolate coconut or vanilla cardamom) or together depending how their taste or needs change throughout the day.

In April, six student teams (chosen from undergraduate and graduate dairy and food science programs across the country) participated in the competition and were challenged to come up with a high-protein dairy beverage targeting consumers between the ages of 15 and 25. This age group represents the youngest segment of Millennials (ages 19-37) and the oldest members of Generation Z (ages 0-18).

Now in its six year, the National Dairy Council’s New Product Competition helps inspire the next generation of food developers and gives students the chance to experience what it would be like to work for a food company while they’re still in college, said Judith Jarvis, director of dairy science communications for the National Dairy Council. The students work as a team to formulate new foods to meet a current market opportunity, create functional and attractive packaging, and develop a pricing and marketing strategy, she said.

Dairy Foods Managing Editor Sarah Kennedy was one of the judges participating in April. The team of judges was able to taste samples of the prototypes, inspect packaging and ask the students questions. The students’ products were graded on criteria like originality, description, problem solving and marketing/potential.

Kansas State University’s team took second place for its Mate Au Lait Protein Plus, a unique, ready-to-drink, dairy-based tea beverage made with four ingredients: whole milk, brewed Yerba mate tea, sugar and milk protein concentrate. The University of Wisconsin team was awarded third place for its Lassigo beverage. The fermented, protein-rich milk-based beverage was inspired by the traditional Indian yogurt beverage, lassi.