New Product Competition Inspires Innovation in Students

  • Article
  • 3 min read June 27, 2019

National Dairy Council’s New Product Competition, now in its eighth year, helps inspire the next generation of food scientists and innovators and gives college students the chance to experience what it would be like to work for a food company.

Teams of students work to formulate new foods to meet a current market opportunity, create functional and attractive packaging, and develop a pricing and marketing strategy. This year, a team from North Carolina State University was awarded the first prize of $8,000 at the American Dairy Science Association’s annual meeting in Cincinnati.

In April, NDC challenged six student teams, chosen from undergraduate and graduate dairy and food science programs across the country, to develop a new dairy or dairy-based product to satisfy consumer’s need for performance nutrition. Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults are current or potential consumers for foods and beverages to support athletic performance. And consumers’ perception of performance nutrition goes beyond sport and nutrition. Looking or feeling good, maintaining or improving strength, and losing or maintaining weight are among the top five reasons consumers opt for performance nutrition across gender and age groups. Consumers often understand performance to mean benefits that come from eating nutritionally dense foods like those made with milk.*

North Carolina State University created the winning Cookies and ‘Cotta, a high-protein (13 grams per serving), high-fiber (5 grams per serving), lactose-free frozen cookie sandwich made with two dark chocolate cookies and a dairy-based vanilla filling that combines milk, cream, whey protein isolate and ricotta cheese. The unique use of ricotta cheese in the filling provides a contrasting yet complementary flavor, texture and color to the product. Ricotta is also used in the cookies, both to increase protein content as well as maintain tenderness when frozen.

North Carolina State University winners, above, shown from left to right: Peter Rizzo, Jennifer Fideler (team captain), Katharine Clark and Jonathan Strum.

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

The competition continues to provide valuable learning experience to the participants.

“When faced with challenges, we found it essential to return to our original goal to determine which adjustments we could make and which sacrifices we could afford while maintaining the product's integrity, functionality, purpose, flavor and texture,” said student Jennifer Fideler, from North Carolina State University’s team.

Meanwhile, Cornell University student Joice Pranata said, "The product-development process is a balancing act. The experience gave us a chance to learn how to maximize nutritional value while maintaining a delicious taste and mouthfeel."

Finally, Leilany Vazquez-Portalatin, a student from the University of Minnesota, acknowledged that the “sports nutrition theme of the competition encouraged us to think outside the box and explore various facets of product development. As students, this opportunity has helped us foster critical thinking, teamwork and motivated us to be more innovative in our approach, bringing the best in us. Most importantly, we enjoyed every second of every stage throughout this whole process. It was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn and grow."

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


The first-place Cookies & 'Cotta, from North Carolina State University, is a lactose-free frozen cookie sandwich made with two dark chocolate cookies and a dairy-based vanilla filling that includes whey protein isolate and ricotta cheese.


MooVit, from Cornell University, is a dairy-based sandwich cookie with at least 73% dairy ingredients like whey proteins, yogurt, butter and sweetened condensed milk.


Third place went to Limber, from University of Minnesota. It's a shaved ice frozen dessert inspired by Puerto Rico and is made with whole milk and whey protein isolate.


University of Massachusetts Amherst created MooForce Sport Chew, a bite-sized milk tablet for thos who want to sustain their energy levels during and after workouts.


Iowa State University made Dairybreak, a high-protein dairy-based peanut butter and cranberry power bar with complex carbohydrates, sugars and micellar casein intended to promote satiety.


University of Wisconsin Madison made C-MOO-2, a high-protein, dairy-based carbonated beverage to meet consumers' needs for performance nutrition.

*GlobalData: Capitalizing on Innovation Opportunities Within Sports Nutrition, April 2018; Consumer research Q4 2017