Milk-based beverages for active kids and ready-to-drink lattes with collagen are among the nine finalists announced in the California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) Real California Milk Accelerator dairy startup competition. The competition is designed to inspire ideas integrating the values of fluid milk into contemporary products and provide resources to help bring them to market. 

Launched in 2019, the competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in fluid milk products, packaging and capacity within California, Tracy, Calif.-based CMAB said, by connecting manufacturers, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs for high-quality, sustainable dairy beverages.

The nine innovators will receive up to $25,000 of support each to develop protocepts while receiving elite mentorship from marketing, packaging and distribution experts, including a business development trip the week of Oct. 14 to tour California dairy farms and production facilities and meet with industry leaders to help facilitate their new ventures. The final competition will take place live on Thursday, Nov. 7 in the San Francisco Bay area, CMAB said, culminating in a grand prize winner that will receive up to $250,000 worth of additional support to deliver its new product to market.

The finalists include:

  • Bears Nutrition daily nutritional milk beverage for active kids.
  • WheyUp protein dairy beverage with 12 live and active probiotic cultures and whey protein.
  • Good Citizens ready to drink latte with collagen.
  • Thai Star Brewing Co. Thai Star iced tea.
  • Nutraberry upcycled high-fiber polyphenol milk protein beverage.
  • Naicha milk tea with probiotics and vitamins.
  • Allpur Fizza sparkling dairy nutrient refresher.
  • Cheese yogurt fermented dairy beverage.
  • Stuyt Dairy dairy-based dessert beverage.

“The number and quality of entries received is a testament to the vibrancy of the beverage category and proves the desire of product developers to tap into the unique natural goodness of milk to meet consumer cravings for beverages that are not only healthy but taste great,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB.

VentureFuel Inc., a New York-based innovation consultancy, is working with CMAB to find, identify and mentor the best emerging startups from their global network of investors, founders and academics to drive first-to-market innovation for the dairy space, CMAB said.

"This competition has created an opportunity for cutting-edge technologies and dynamic entrepreneurs to drive innovation for a product that has been a household staple for generations," said Fred Schoenberg, CEO and Founder of VentureFuel. "CMAB's vision, combined with the ingenuity of the nine selected pioneering startups, sets the stage to educate the public regarding milk's true nutritional benefits, and re-introduce it to the marketplace in inspired and engaging ways that connect with the public's current and evolving tastes."

Competition information is available at: