Dairy Research InstituteThe Dairy Research Institute®, through the support of America's dairy farmers and importers, today announced a new product competition that provides students with an opportunity to develop innovative dairy products in line with current industry and consumer insights.

"The dairy industry is always delivering new opportunities through science and technology to develop innovative products and ingredients," said Bill Graves, senior vice president, Dairy Research Institute. "However, the beverage industry is huge - with an estimated $37 billion in sales. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® has gathered information on the competitive beverage set that shows the trends and opportunities in this arena. To be at the forefront of product innovation, the Dairy Research Institute is providing a platform for students to bring their knowledge and expertise to dairy beverage innovation." The challenge to students this year is to create a dairy beverage that relates to the most recent competitive beverage analysis and meets criteria including using any form of fresh or dry milk or other dairy ingredients, demonstrating innovation and providing a valuable product for consumers.

Entry information can be accessed at www.USDairy.com/NewProductCompetition through February 15, 2012. Finalists will be recognized and have the opportunity to showcase their product at the Annual American Dairy Science Association® (ADSA®) Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., in July 2012.

"Dairy producers have a legacy of actively supporting nutrition, product and sustainability research. As part of that commitment, the Dairy Research Institute has created an opportunity for students to showcase their work to dairy industry leaders and help build dairy demand," said Kevin Ponticelli, chairman of the Dairy Research Institute.

The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students and will recognize three outstanding individuals or teams – with awards totaling:

· First prize, $8,000

· Second prize, $5,000

· Third prize, $3,000

All nominations will be evaluated based on the originality of the dairy beverage for human consumption and relation to the Dairy Research Institute consumer and marketplace insights.

Deadline for applications is Feb. 15, 2012. For more information, please visit www.USDairy.com/NewProductCompetition.