Food Entrepreneur ITHACA, NY. – The inaugural Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition has its 10 finalists.

Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) and the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center (NDFRC) announced the food entrepreneurs and products that are being considered for the contest, which supports food innovators in launching products that are made using dairy ingredients from the Northeast.

The finalists and their products 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 children.

• 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 Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition is supported by a $1 million grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center. A total of $365,000 in awards will go to finalists and winners, who will receive funding and technical support to bring their products to market. Finalists receive $20,000, and up to three winners gain another $55,000, plus a presence at the Dairy Innovation Showcase at the 2023 Grow-NY Summit in November.

The competition’s organizers said more than 50 food entrepreneurs from throughout the United States applied. The finalists were selected by a committee of dairy experts, based on product concept, innovation or improvement, viability, prominence of dairy ingredients and consumer value.

Samuel Alcaine, PhD, director of the NDFRC and associate professor at Cornell CALS, said the people behind the competition were thrilled with the response they have received thus far.

“This competition positions the Northeast to create more product lines and business opportunities for our region's dairy farmers," Dr. Alcaine said.

Jenn Smith, the director of food and agriculture startup programs for CREA, said the competition “builds a pipeline of entrepreneurs equipped to create and scale value-added products that address today's consumer preferences.”

Ms. Smith added: “Growing these businesses is key to increasing the utilization of dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast and strengthening our rural economy.”

Finalists will be evaluated on dairy product concept, execution, innovation and improvement, as well as commercialization viability, business model, the use of dairy ingredients and consumer value.

The 10 finalists will pitch their products to judges on Aug. 8, at Cornell University's Stocking Hall, in Ithaca.

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