From bovine colostrum to cookie wafer ice cream: Who won the 5th Real California Milk Excelerator?

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

The winners, from left: Donald Anit, founder of Amazing Ice Creams; Andrew Arbos, founder & CEO of Arbo’s Cheese Dip; Maxime Pouvreau founder of Petit Pot; and Rob and Erica Diepersloot, co-founders of WonderCow
The winners, from left: Donald Anit, founder of Amazing Ice Creams; Andrew Arbos, founder & CEO of Arbo’s Cheese Dip; Maxime Pouvreau founder of Petit Pot; and Rob and Erica Diepersloot, co-founders of WonderCow

Related tags Whey Cheese Ice cream bovine colostrum Yogurt Dessert

Four start-ups have been named the winners of this year’s open innovation competition, while two of last year’s winners unlocked additional funding to scale up and market their products.

Amazing Ice Creams, Arbo’s Cheese Dip, Petit Pot and WonderCow are the four winners of the fifth edition of the competition organized by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) and VentureFuel.

Amazing Ice Creams is the company behind a cookie wafer ice cream bar novelty that’s been coated in chocolate to stay crunchy. Company founder Donald Anit said it was ‘a great privilege and honor to be part of the CMAB and VentureFuel family,’ adding: “Being able to see how California milk products are processed, from beginning to end, inspires us with an endless vision of avenues in the dairy industry. Meeting new processors, buyers and partners adds bountiful assets of growth to our business and the future of our company.”

Arbo’s Cheese Dip, a company that makes gluten-free, queso-style cheese dips from pasteurized processed American cheese, was the only firm that wasn’t based in California to win a grant. Andrew Arbos, founder and CEO, said he was ‘humbled’ by the opportunity and felt like his company has ‘struck gold for being noticed and included’ in the finalists’ cohort. “California dairy farmers are focused on a cleaner, more sustainable future, but they need brands like us to support them. This is why I became so passionate about adding the Real California Milk seal, because it carries the real weight of what it takes to be innovative and sustainable. Being chosen as one of the winners, it is now my duty to support California farmers, so that we can collectively deliver the highest quality products nationwide.”

Petit Pot, makers of French-style dairy desserts that are packaged in paper-based cups made with no less than 80% renewable fiber, was also among the winners. Founder Maxime Pouvreau said the recognition was ‘a testament to the dedication and hard work of our team over the years’. “The timing of this prize couldn't have been more perfect, as we will be utilizing the funding to support Petit Pot's new paper cup desserts at Publix and Target,” he added. “We're looking forward to partnering with CMAB to drive awareness and affinity of our products and Real California Milk across the country.”

Last but not least, WonderCow, who produces all-natural bovine colostrum powder supplement that promotes immunity, muscle recovery and gut health, was the final winner. Founder Rob Diepersloot said that being a part of the CMAB cohort had been ‘a great experience for our team’, adding: “We've met a lot of like-minded entrepreneurs, mentors, and industry leaders that we will continue to collaborate with as we grow our new company. It is these relationships and connections that will guide us as we take WonderCow to the next level. The California dairy industry has such an amazing story when it comes to innovation and sustainability, and we are extremely blessed to be a part of it.”

John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB, said this year’s was ‘a close competition, with each cohort member bringing something interesting to the table’.

The event also featured a first ever Future of Dairy Expo, where attendees tasted and tested products from 15 of the industry's most innovative startups, and a panel highlighting insights on the impact of dairy innovations on retail sales and consumer behavior. “In the end, however, the four winners each had a solid product and a complete selling story that will connect with consumers,” he commented. “California dairy families understand the value of innovation and invest in research and opportunities like the Excelerator competition to ensure a continued role for real milk and dairy in consumer's evolving lives.”

Dosa, Wheyward Spirit unlock fresh funding one year on

Meanwhile, two of last year’s winners received additional funding to boost their respective product development and marketing efforts. Dosa, makers of a range of lassi fermented dairy beverages, have been granted $100,000 while Wheyward Spirit who upcycle whey into alcoholic beverages, received $25,000 in additional funding.

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