Ice cream infused with vegetables, to-go premium cheese snacks, decadent chocolate mousse and flavored paneer make up the finalists announced today in the Real California Milk Snackcelerator product innovation competition. Created by the Tracy, Calif.-based California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) and VentureFuel, New York, the event is the second of its kind by the California dairy industry. It is designed to inspire ideas integrating the values of fluid milk and dairy ingredients into snacks to meet growing consumer demand and providing resources to help bring them to market, CMAB said.

The finalists include:

  • Peekaboo: ice cream. The first and only organic ice cream with the added nutritional benefits of vegetables.
  • Yummy Industries: Cheese Bits. A line of all-natural, fresh and wood-smoked scamorza and chechil cheeses, conveniently shaped and packaged for on-the-go snacking.
  • Petit Pot: desserts. An indulgent single-serve chocolate mousse dessert, perfect for family snacking, made with the best organic, local ingredients from the first brand to bring traditional French desserts to American grocery stores.
  • Sāch Foods: flavored paneer. The world's first flavored and artisanal paneer in a snackable form. Rooted in Indian cuisine paneer is a time-tested, nutrient-rich food and a high-protein favorite for millions around the world.

These four innovators were selected from a field of 16 sweet and savory semi-finalist competitors during a two-day virtual pitch event judged by a group of snack experts from Conagra, SnackRiot, Hershey’s, Bristol Farms, General Mills, Unilever, Mondelez, Rosa Brothers, RangeMe, Acreage Holdings, Better Food Ventures and Trail Mix Ventures, CMAB said. A virtual fan vote — through Perksy, which provides market research for the mobile generation — also played a role in the final decision.

Peekaboo, Yummy Industries, Petit Pot and Sāch Foods will move on to the final live event Nov. 19, hosted by OS Studios at, where they will compete for $200,000 in support to bring their visions to market. A runner-up will receive $100,000 toward the same goal. Each founder will be presenting to a field of judges from the consumer packaged goods, retail, venture capital and food science world, representing such companies as Clorox, Mondelez, Whole Foods, CircleUp and more.

“This field of finalists represent the innovation we’re seeing in better-for-you snacking today — highly flavorful, portable options with added benefits,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “And consumers agree. Through the Persky platform, 2,000 consumers were introduced to these products during the semi-finals and voted on which they would be most interested in buying. Those scores were factored into the final judging and will be included on the 19th.

“Any of these four products will make a perfect partner for our real milk and dairy ingredients, which offer incredible functionality plus flavor and a host of naturally occurring nutrients,” he continued. “And, as the leading dairy state, our family dairy farms can provide a consistent, sustainable source of milk to fuel production of whichever product ultimately wins.”

The 16 semifinalists received $10,000 worth of support each to develop an edible prototype, CMAB said. They also get a suite of resources, including graphic design, lab or kitchen time, and elite mentorship from global marketing, packaging and distribution experts from companies that include Diageo, Nestle, Mondelez, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, Bristol Farms, Rosa Brothers, Food Network/Hearst Magazines, Pod Foods, Latitude Ventures, The Marketing Greenhouse, The Creative Pack, Whole Brain Consulting and Power Brands. The total value of competition prizing is more than $800,000.

“It’s impossible not to be inspired by the creative new thinking that the semifinalists brought to dairy snacking,” said Fred Schonenberg, CEO and Founder of VentureFuel. “The overall excitement created by the competition with consumers, retailers, investors and dairy farmers has a tremendous halo effect for the industry, not to mention the potential scalability of these fantastic four finalists and what they can do for dairy demand.”