The Real California Snackcelerator



The Real California Milk Snackcelerator is a competition open to any persons who, as of date of entry, (i) are legal residents of one of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia, (ii) are at least eighteen (18) years of age or older (or the age of majority in their state of residence if greater than eighteen (18), whichever age is older), who have a promising cow’s milk snacking concept, be it a start-up, Small to Medium Enterprise, researcher, student, public organization, consultant, engineering company, a combination of these. Employees of the California Milk Advisory Board and its Board Members, and members of the immediate family of any such persons, are not eligible to participate and win through any entity or otherwise. The term “immediate family” includes spouses, siblings, parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren, whether as “in-laws,” or by current or past marriage(s), remarriage(s), adoption, co-habitation or other family extension, and any other persons residing at the same household whether or not related.
To be eligible, an applicant must meet the following criteria for being “early stage” for the product being submitted by the applicant or organization: The product is pre-revenue or early revenue (less than $250,000 of domestic US Sales) An edible prototype of the product is ready for tasting by the Finals If the business is a spin-off from an existing business and meets the above criteria, it will also be eligible.

Location & Dairy Requirements

The applicant must be innovating within dairy snacking, creating new flavors, variants or other dairy snacking products for public consumption. These innovations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Flavor Variations
  • Nutrient/Health Improvements
  • Marketing Innovations
  • New Packaging
  • Environmentally Conscious or Sustainability Innovations
  • Offer new and/or improved methods for producing, preparing, and packaging food and beverage products or ingredients
  • Represent high-growth opportunities for new and innovative food and beverage products or ingredients
The applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • Be a dairy snack product
  • Dairy be at least 50% of the formula
  • All Dairy ingredients must be from 100% California Milk
  • Final product will carry the Real California Milk seal
Finalists must commit to producing 100% of their product within California and with Real California Milk (fluid milk or other dairy products/ingredients) for a period of 24 months and must conduct business in the state of California. Finalists will be expected to sign the State of California Standard Agreement (link). Finalist must establish primary manufacturing or co-manufacturing facility within the State of California.
If applicant is unsure about eligibility to enter the Competition, they may contact before submitting an entry.

Judging Criteria

A panel of judges will award up to $450,000 worth of total value prizing to innovative dairy snack applicants, based upon which entries best meet the assessment criteria, as set out below. Decisions made by the jury are final and no correspondence will be entered into. The composition of the jury may vary and judges may select more than one grand prize winner or award only one grand prize winner depending upon quality of semi-finalists. Judging criteria includes:
  • Uniqueness
  • Nutrition
  • Taste: as determined by scoring by the judges
  • Viability of Commercialization and Business Model – Generation of revenue and maintenance of a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business that includes:
    • The need the product addresses or problem that it solves for
    • Product market fit
    • Competition and point of differentiation
    • Marketing – who is the consumer target – mom, kids, millennials – and how will you win over your audience.
    • Product name
  • Customer Value – Provision of significant value for customers for which they are willing to pay; addressing a substantial market
  • Dairy Snack Innovation – Pushing the state-of-the-art technology contributing to making California the global leader in Dairy Snacking
  • Regional Job Creation – Potential for creation of jobs in California
  • Team – Quality and completeness of the team and their readiness to deliver product to market.
  • Packaging – Will the product have packaging advantages, including ESL (Extended Shelf Life), UHT (Ultra high Temperature) / aseptic, in order to also work in Asia and/or Mexico. Special consideration will be given to any sustainable packaging options, like biodegradable.
  • Size of the idea - Is it niche or broad? Can the product work nationally in the US, as well as export to Asia and/or Mexico?

Winner Selection

A panel of judges will review all submitted applications and select up to eight (8) semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists will appoint a spokesperson from their team to pitch their business and plans to a live audience and panel of judges during the final pitch competition, to be held at an event venue in the San Francisco Bay Area (or virtually, as necessary). Each pitch will be followed by a brief question period for judges to seek more information to which the presenter will answer to the best of their ability. After all pitches are completed, the judges will determine the winners, considering input from the previous judging round, and winners will be announced.

Competition Timeline

The Real California Milk Snackcelerator competition will consist of an application, an online semifinalist selection, and a live pitch final. In between the semi-finals and final live pitch, business support and development work will be provided in California, for the semi-finalists. This support will include: tours of dairy farms, processing plants and meetings with marketing executives and other entrepreneurs (may be virtual, as necessary due to social distancing restrictions at the sole discretion of CMAB).
August 3
August 28
August 28
September 9
September 9
September 22
September 28
October 30
October 16
October 17
November 12
November 12

Awards, Benefits, and Conditions

Applicants will be eligible to compete to receive the following Awards:
  • Up to eight (8) Semi-Finalist will be selected to each receive $10,000 worth of services prior to the Final Pitch.
    • This will be used to finalize products for the final event including marketing services, time at labs, etc.
    • $120,000 of value will be allocated for the group including:
      • $40,000 will be allocated for the group to tap into bulk services such as graphic design, Cal Poly time, etc.
      • $80,000 of value will be allocated for Expert Mentorship on subjects from packaging design to pitch preparation to retail insights to social media advice.
  • $50,000 of value will be allocated for expense-paid (travel, lodging and meals) business development trip and finals trip. This will include tours of dairy farms and processing facilities as well as meeting with industry leaders to help drive success of their new ventures.
  • $200,000 worth of marketing support (some combination of on-pack, instant redeemable coupons, digital coupons, product sampling, in-store signage / marketing) will be awarded to the winner(s) to support the product launch. Other product launch support such as providing trade contacts, category sales reports and Real California Milk selling materials are available from the CMAB. Judges will determine if there is One (1) Grand Prize winner or if the $200,000 prize pool will be divided amongst multiple winners. In the event that Judges are split on who the ultimate winner is, CMAB may elect to distribute prizing across multiple winners from the Semi-Finalist pool.
The number of Awards is subject to change at the discretion of the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB, the “Administrator”), based on the number of applicants, quality of applications received, involvement and commitment by selected finalists. All recipients of an Award (each, a “Recipient”) will receive mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and access to business acceleration and incubation support during the period of the Award. Awards are contingent upon and only issued subject to execution of an Award Agreement in the form provided by the Administrator, which will include, but not be limited to, the following provisions:
  • Reimbursement of Awards
  • Recipients of the Semi-Finalist award will each receive services up to $10,000, to be paid directly by CMAB, including:
    • Production Time
    • Mentor Services
    • Travel to Dairy Tour (or virtual experience, as necessary)
    • Lab Time
    • Travel to Processing Facilities Tour (or virtual experience, as necessary)
  • In addition to the services listed above, winner(s) of the California Milk Snackcelerator will receive services up to $200,000 to be paid directly by CMAB, including:
    • Marketing Support at product launch within the parameters allowed by CMAB as an Agricultural Marketing board (allowable marketing expenses are listed above)
  • Winner(s) must meet the requirements in the Location & Dairy section above. If at any time they fail to meet such requirements, prizes will be rescinded and awarded to the next runner-up, at the discretion of the Administrator.
  • The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) reserves the right to terminate or rescind finalist status or any award for behavior that reflects negatively on the CMAB and/or the California dairy farming community, including racist and/or hate speech.
  • The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and is conducting this event to create opportunities for the growth of California fluid milk and dairy products. This contest will be conducted without the use of specific brand or trade names. While applicants may name the product idea or concept, existing brand or trade names are not allowed.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property

By submitting an application, the applicant agrees to the terms of the CMAB privacy policy. Access to the applications is granted to the Administrator and its designees (including, but not limited to, the Committee and Finals Judging Panel) for the purposes of review and judging (collectively, the “Reviewing Parties”). The Administrator, for itself and on behalf of the Reviewing Parties, offers and makes no guarantee of confidentiality, either explicit or implicit, in connection with any data or information presented or discussed by applicants, whether in the application or otherwise throughout the Competition. Applicants should confirm with appropriate advisors and legal counsel that any intellectual property described or disclosed in an application is held by the applicant and appropriately protected before the application is submitted, but this does not guarantee nondisclosure by the CMAB if the CMAB is compelled to release documentation of the intellectual property by applicable law. Applicants should mark all trade secrets as “confidential trade secret,” recognizing that this precaution does not guarantee nondisclosure, but rather it assists the CMAB in claiming an exemption from release should the documents be requested via the California Public Records Act. Applicants should be prepared to provide reasonable back-up documentation for these statements, if requested by the Administrator. The authors of each applicant submission will retain all copyrights to the contents of their submission, provided that the Reviewing Parties may make photocopies, photographs, and video and/or audio recordings of any data or information divulged, presented, or discussed by any applicant throughout that applicant’s participation in the Competition. By submitting an application for the Competition, applicants agree to and hereby grant a license to the Administrator and the Reviewing Parties to use and reproduce such materials without restriction and without compensation and to conduct such due diligence as the Reviewing Parties determine is necessary or desirable for purposes of evaluating the application and carrying out the Competition as described herein. In addition, applicant agrees, for itself and each of its principals and officers, that the Administrator and its assigns will have the perpetual right to publicly post and reproduce certain information about finalists and winners of Awards, including, but not limited to names of participating individuals, photographs, videos, category of business, logo and other marks, and an abstract (collectively, “Materials”) on the public areas of the Reviewing Parties’ websites, media sites and through other means, all without compensation. The Administrator and its assigns will also have the perpetual right to use the Materials for research, educational, advertising, promotional, not-for-profit and other similar purposes.