The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), Tracy, Calif., said it doubled the number of semi-finalists and added more than $350,000 in additional awards to the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, its dairy product innovation competition. Inspired by the number of quality ideas and products that integrate the flavor and functionality of California dairy into both sweet and savory snack formulations, the VentureFuel-run competition expanded to include 16 companies competing for more than $800,000 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 among processors, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs.

“The purpose of this competition is to inspire new ideas integrating the natural ingredients, flavor and nutritional profile of milk and other dairy products and this year’s entries certainly delivered,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “In fact, when the judging committee evaluated the applications, we saw so many unique ideas and scalable opportunities to bring new products to market, it was clear that we needed to find a way to expand the program even further.”

VentureFuel Inc., a corporate innovation consultancy, is partnering with CMAB to run the program and identified and recruited applicants from their global network of investors, founders and academics.

“We saw a 153% increase in qualified applications from our first program with CMAB, which is a testament to the momentum we have been building together as well as the opportunity in marrying snacking innovation with dairy,” said Fred Schonenberg, founder of VentureFuel. “We saw applications from Ghana to Oakland that included personalized nutrition [and] functional foods, as well as unique flavor profiles inspired by cultures around the world. Now comes the fun part of helping accelerate these products so that they are ready to pitch at the semi-finals, the finals and ultimately get to market for consumers to enjoy.”

The competition now moves to the Sweet & Savory 16, where semi-finalists will be broken into two groups, “Sweet” for those that cater to the sweet flavors and “Savory” for those palates that look for more salty and cooked flavors. The 16 semi-finalist applicants for the 2020 RCM Snackcelerator, CMAB said, are:


  • Peekaboo Ice Cream: The first and only organic ice cream with the added nutritional benefits of vegetables.
  • FitPro Heroes’ Cookies: High quality lactose-free, shelf-stable protein cookies that deliver ingredients designed to support daily performance needs, including mental acuity, healthy energy, joint support and inflammation relief, stress and anxiety relief, sleep aid, as well as offering traditional protein recovery benefits from premium milk proteins.
  • Moody’s Ice Cream: Moody’s infuses ultrapremium ice cream with functional ingredients, adaptogens and herbalist blends to naturally boost mood and turn up the body’s own superpowers.
  • Lucha Leche: Protein-rich yogurt drinks, in Latin-inspired flavors, fortified with pre- and probiotics and no added sugars. Provides a healthy, nutritional snacking option featuring a relatable cultural icon: The Luchador.
  • Frutero Ice Cream: Premium Latin-inspired ice cream made with 100% real tropical fruits and creamy butterfat. Flavors include Mango, Guava, Passion Fruit, Guanabana and Coconut.
  • Optimized Foods: Premium ice cream novelties that leverage innovative proprietary encapsulation technologies to deliver key functionally proven health ingredients (improved muscle performance, cognitive function, intestinal immunity, etc.) with better taste and greater bioavailability.
  • Petit Pot: The first brand to bring traditional French desserts to American grocery stores is developing a new indulgent chocolate dessert, perfect for family snacking, made with the best organic, local ingredients.
  • Wunder Cheesecake Bites: A snackable, decadent, feel-good cheesecake that’s high in protein and low in carbs. Ready to eat in a convenient, single-serve package.



  • Baozza: An entirely new snack category, combining two of the most consumed foods in Asian and gen pop culture — Bao buns and pizza.
  • WheyUp Probiotic Kefir Krisps: Snack chips made from creme Kefir (Labne) with a one-year shelf life while maintaining the active probiotic cultures in a cheese yogurt snack.
  • Point Reyes Farmstead Whey Cool Kitchen Curd Cup: Whey Cool Kitchen Curd Cup is the first clean, mix-in dairy snack with savory flavors; it is high in protein, making it the perfect afternoon snack or lunchtime meal
  • Sach Foods Organic Paneer: The world's first flavored and artisanal paneer. Rooted in Indian cuisine, this is a snackable version of paneer, a time-tested, nutrient-rich food and a high-protein favorite for millions around the world.
  • Fahris LLC: Yoghurt Chips: Inspired by a historical Mediterranean recipe, these chips are made from high quality California cow’s milk, which first turns into prebiotic- rich yoghurt and then is mixed with crushed wheat and thyme. The final product is a hunger-satiating snack that is high in protein and rich in fiber, healthy enzymes, and probiotics.
  • Saga Ventures Crispy Cheese Bar: A crispy cheese bar snack utilizing California cheese and other flavors for the perfect savory snacking option that is low-carb and high in protein to provide a boost of sustainable energy. 
  • Yummy Industries: Cheese Bits: An innovative line of all-natural, fresh and wood-smoked scamorza and chechil cheeses, conveniently shaped and packaged for snacking fun. Made in California from 100% local milk.
  • Enrich Protein: Hispanic-style dairy snack chip containing innovative and novel enhanced dairy proteins to support greater health, body composition and exercise recovery.

Through the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, the CMAB said it sought high-growth potential snack product concepts, with cow’s milk dairy as their first ingredient and making up at least 50% of their formula. The startups have committed to producing the product in California, with milk from California dairy farms, should they win the competition.

The 16 startups accepted into the cohort 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 additional services and support via industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture, CMAB said.

Semi-finalists will compete in four virtual events on Nov. 10 and 11, followed by a final virtual public pitch event for the final four on Nov. 19 from 5-6:30 p.m. PT. The first place winner will receive up to $200,000 worth of additional support and the second-place winner $100,000 worth of additional support to get their new product to market, CMAB said. The value of the competition prizing is over $800,000.