New York dairy competition launched for start-ups and emerging businesses

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The dairy industry is the largest single segment of New York's agricultural industry.  Pic: Getty Images/johnrandallalves
The dairy industry is the largest single segment of New York's agricultural industry. Pic: Getty Images/johnrandallalves

Related tags New york Dairy Milk

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Dairy Promotion Order (DPO) Advisory Board, and VentureFuel have created a new start-up competition, MilkLaunch, focused on accelerating product innovation for dairy products in New York State.

MilkLaunch will encourage entrepreneurs to introduce new dairy products for consumers with the goal of boosting dairy sales in New York State. The competition includes more than $200,000 in awards, including providing $15,000 to support four finalists in perfecting their product via lab time, customer insights, research, and mentorship from global experts across the consumer products, retail and dairy industries.

The grand prize of $150,000 will be used to accelerate the winner(s) of the competition to get to market and drive dairy sales.

The 10-member DPO advisory board, which advises the State Department of Agriculture on the allocation of milk producer funds, supported the project as part of its 2020 goals to promote and increase the consumption of New York milk and dairy products.

“We want to inspire the dairy community in New York, from large operations to small family-run farms, to put forth new ideas and unique products while inspiring global beverage entrepreneurs to unleash their creativity on the milk category,”​ said Fred Schonenberg, founder of consultancy company VentureFuel Inc., which will run the competition.

“Our goal is to rethink what is possible and to deliver exciting milk-based products that customers will love.”

Finalists will have the opportunity to collaborate with food scientists from Cornell University’s Food Processing Development Laboratory and Sensory Evaluation Program to improve their product’s safety, quality, labeling and product marketing practices.

“New York is an ideal place for dairy innovation, especially with Cornell research, processing and product resources available to start-ups and entrepreneurs,”​ said Dr Nicole Martin, associate director of Cornell University’s Milk Quality Improvement Program.

The competition is for early-stage applicants ranging from idea stage to existing new products. Products must contain at least 50% fluid milk, have sales of less than $250,000, and the winners must commit that all milk will be sourced from New York producers for at least 12 months.

Entries are open to all including dairy farms, processors, producers, entrepreneurs, and academics. Additionally, VentureFuel, Inc. will tap into its worldwide network of more than 500 venture capitalists, seed investors, founders and university labs to help discover applicants.

The dairy industry is the largest single segment of New York's agricultural industry. The state has nearly 4,000 dairy farms that produce nearly 15 billion pounds of milk, is the fourth largest producer of milk, the largest producer of cottage cheese and sour cream, and the second largest producer of yogurt.

Competition rules and application documents are available at​ and the deadline for application is September 15, 2020.

Related topics Manufacturers