CA: California Milk Advisory Board Launches Startup Competition To Accelerate Innovation In Fluid Milk

In the changing food and beverage landscape, today’s consumers want options that taste great but also offer specific benefits to help them maintain overall wellness while aligning with the values they hold dear. It’s a tall order but one that milk is well suited to meet. While milk is the original functional beverage, the unique wholesome values of milk have been overlooked in our everchanging, chaotic lives. We need fresh new ideas of how to integrate these values into contemporary products.

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is launching a milk innovation startup project to help advance the development of milk-based fluid beverages to compete in today’s marketplace and meet changing consumer needs. The Real California Milk Accelerator, the biggest dairy startup competition of all-time, will award innovative fluid milk applicants with more than $450,000 in prizes to help bring products to the marketplace.

The Real California Milk Accelerator combines two of California’s great natural resources: Quality, sustainable fluid milk and California entrepreneurship. The competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in fluid milk products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting the dots between manufacturers, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs.



“Consumers are looking for beverages that support their wellness goals while also fitting into their evolving lifestyles. No other food in nature exists to provide the nutritional value of milk with its unique flavor and functionality. Milk is a perfect ingredient in products developed for the way we live today,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “Our goal is to drive innovation and help startups clear the hurdles to bringing these products to market.”

The CMAB actively promotes products made with 100 percent California milk in California, across the U.S., in Mexico and in nine Asian countries. Inspiring innovation and investment in fluid milk products and packaging within the state will help provide a pipeline of growth ideas for these international and domestic markets.

Through the Real California Milk Accelerator, the CMAB is seeking high-growth potential liquid milk product concepts, with milk making up at least 50% of their formula. The startup will need to innovate within liquid dairy, creating new flavors, variants or other liquid dairy products for public consumption. They also will need to commit to producing the product in California, should they win the competition.

Up to eight startups will receive $25,000 worth of support each, to develop a protocept, while receiving elite mentorship from marketing, packaging, and distribution experts. This includes a business development trip to tour California 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 $250,000 worth of support to get their new product to market.

VentureFuel, Inc., the leading innovation consultancy, is running the program and helping CMAB identify the best emerging opportunities from their global network of investors, founders and academics. “We have worked closely with CMAB to build a program that truly accelerates innovation and will bring fresh, new products to market by giving founders unprecedented expertise and access to the dairy farmer and dairy processing community,” said Fred Schonenberg, Founder of VentureFuel, Inc. “CMAB is connecting the rich nutrition of fluid milk from California farmers with the ingenuity of today’s entrepreneurs, to inspire great new products for families to enjoy.”

Competition rules and application documents are available at The deadline for application is August 31, 2019 with finalists competing in a live project presentation before a panel of expert judges in November 2019.



The RCM Accelerator leverages resources from the Milk Revitalization Alliance (MRA), which identified four platforms to reimagine, innovate and grow fluid dairy: Peak Performance, Sensorial Experiences, Functionality and Responsible Consumption. Created by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the MLA is focused on leveraging the power of the dairy value chain to increase milk impact at retail. The CMAB is a member of the Alliance.

The CMAB represents more than 1200 family dairy farms that produce the milk found in fluid milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products identified by the Real California Milk seal.

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