Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) and the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center (NDFRC) announced 10 finalists for the inaugural Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition, an initiative that supports food innovators in launching products made from dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast.
Funded by a $1 million grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), the competition provides finalists early-stage incubation assistance from Cornell's food processing and business experts, access to the university's food processing facilities, industry mentorship, and training on product prototyping. Along with these resources, finalists will receive $20,000, up to three winners receiving an additional $55,000, and a presence at the Dairy Innovation Showcase at the 2023 Grow-NY Summit in November.
More than 50 food entrepreneurs, including those making products on organic and small farms, applied to the competition from across the United States. A committee of dairy experts representing producers, industry, and research selected the 10 finalists based on product concept, innovation or improvement, viability, prominence of dairy ingredients, and consumer value.
The 10 finalists are:
- Bell & Goose Cheese Co., New Hampshire. Marinated feta cheese.
- lu•lu ice cream, Vermont. Goat's milk gelato.
- Maia Yogurt, Connecticut. Grassfed yogurt for kids.
- Maple Valley Farm, Vermont. Saffron maple yogurt.
- North Country Creamery, New York. Semi-hard, pasteurized cheese.
- Oakfield Corners Cheese LLC, New York. Mexican style cheese.
- Spekld, Connecticut. Pre-made, brown butter product.
- Terra Firma Farm, Connecticut. Ready-to-use, premium ice cream base.
- Naturally Golden Family Farms Co-op, Pennsylvania. All natural, dairy-based coffee creamer.
- Very Good Yogurt, New York. Sugar-free, savory yogurt.
The competition culminates on August 8 at Cornell University's Stocking Hall in Ithaca, N.Y., where finalists will pitch their products to a committee of judges. Finalists will be evaluated on:
- Dairy product concept and execution
- Dairy product innovation and improvement
- Viability of commercialization and business model
- Use of dairy ingredients
- Consumer value