Meet Our Future Food Developers

  • Article
  • Slideshow
  • 2 min read June 28, 2017

When you see new foods appear on grocery store shelves, do you ever wonder who created them or what it takes to bring a new food to market?

National Dairy Council’s (NDC) New Product Competition, now in its sixth year, helps inspire the next generation of food developers and gives students the chance to experience what it would be like to work for a food company while they’re still in college. The students work as a team to formulate new foods to meet a current market opportunity, create functional and attractive packaging and develop a pricing and marketing strategy. This year, the Pennsylvania State University team was awarded the first prize of $8,000 at the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) annual meeting in Pittsburgh.

In April, NDC challenged six student teams, chosen from undergraduate and graduate dairy and food science programs across the country, to develop a high-protein dairy beverage that could be the drink of choice for 15- to 25-year-olds. This age group represents the youngest segment of Millennials (ages 19-37) and the oldest members of Generation Z (ages 0-18). Market research tells us these groups are ethnically diverse and socially connected young people who enjoy exploring authentic, global food experiences and new flavors. Sixty-four percent say they prefer drinking beverages that are good for them. Nutrient-rich dairy foods and dairy proteins shine in that department.

The Penn State team created FÜZen, a dairy-based beverage with unique dual-bottle packaging designed to support the on-the-go, healthy lifestyle of moderately active young adults. People have the option of drinking two flavors, chocolate-coconut and vanilla-cardamom, from each 8-ounce side individually or together depending on their preference or nutrition needs throughout the day.

  • Drinking from the chocolate-coconut side of FÜZen provides slightly more protein, less added sugar and fewer calories than the side flavored with vanilla and cardamom.
  • FÜZen is made from 90 percent dairy ingredients, including 2 percent milk, whey protein isolate and micellar casein (the chocolate-coconut side only).
  • It’s also an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamin D and a good source of potassium and vitamin A.

In this year’s competition, teams from Kansas State University and University of Wisconsin were awarded second- and third-place prizes of $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.

The leader of the Kansas State University team said the most valuable thing they learned from the competition was patience.

“Our product’s formulation and application was a tedious endeavor, but rather than rush some of the aspects of production, the team took their time and tried to perfect every detail and stay true to the original concept of Mate Au Lait,” said Conrad Kabus, on behalf of his Kansas State University team.

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin team learned the value of asking for help.

“We talked with individuals at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, and their advice was crucial to our success in creating the product we imagined,” said Lauren Sipple.

See all six of the innovative dairy beverages created by the student teams here: