The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), Tracy, Calif., announced the return of its dairy product innovation competition with the launch of the Real California Milk Snackcelerator. The competition aims to inspire new ideas integrating the flavor and functionality of California dairy into snack formulations that meet the needs of today’s consumers.

With more than $450,000 in awards, the Real California Milk Snackcelerator taps into the $605 billion global snack food market while combining two of California’s great natural resources: high-quality, sustainable dairy products and the insatiable California entrepreneurial spirit, CMAB said. The competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in dairy-based snack products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting the dots between processors, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs.

Research shows that consumers are snacking more than ever before. According to Mondelez International, 59% of adults worldwide prefer snacking to meals with that number increasing to 70% for millennials. The Real California Milk Snackcelerator aims to uncover healthy, natural options to satisfy these cravings, CMAB said.

“Dairy and snacking are natural partners. Not only do dairy foods make the perfect snack on their own, the flavor, nutritional profile and functionality of milk and other dairy products as ingredients are hard to duplicate,” said John Talbot, CEO of CMAB. “As consumers look for snacking options with natural ingredients that deliver something extra — whether a specific flavor profile or a boost of quality protein or other essential nutrients — product developers appreciate what dairy brings to the table.”

The inaugural Real California Milk Accelerator event in 2019 brought nine innovative fluid milk startup finalists to a live pitch event and built the model for dairy product competitions. The 2019 winner, Bears Nutrition, will launch its ready-to-drink milk-based nutritional shakes for children at retail test markets this fall, CMAB said, along with companion “Immunity Nourishment” and “Brain Booster” milk powder-based nutritional shake mixes online.

Up to eight startups will receive $10,000 worth of support each to develop an edible prototype while receiving a suite of resources, including graphic design, lab or kitchen time, and elite mentorship from global marketing, packaging, and distribution experts. They also will receive a business development trip (or virtual equivalent) to tour dairy farms and production facilities and to meet with industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture. The winner will receive up to $200,000 worth of additional support to get its new product to market, CMAB noted. The value of the competition prize is $450,000.

VentureFuel Inc., a corporate innovation consultancy, is again partnering with CMAB to run the program and to identify the best emerging opportunities from their global network of investors, founders and academics.

“Our first program with CMAB proved the value of marrying innovation and dairy, as we were able to bring delicious and diverse products to market quickly, while providing founders unprecedented mentorship and access to accelerate their success,” said Fred Schonenberg, founder of VentureFuel. “CMAB’s continued commitment to product innovation now will inspire great new snacks for consumers to enjoy and further increase the demand for California dairy.”

Competition rules and application documents are available at, and the deadline for application is Aug. 28, 2020.