Four companies recently were selected to receive Dairy Business Innovation Alliance "Dairy Industry Impact" grants. The grants total more than $600,000.
The grant program was designed to attract medium- to large-size dairy companies to develop an innovative idea or tackle a challenge with the potential to advance the industry. The alliance awards reimbursable grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for U.S. Department of Agriculture-eligible expenses related to a company’s proposed project.
The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance is supported by funding from the USDA and was created in the 2018 federal Farm Bill. In addition to the Dairy Industry Impact grant, the organization administers Dairy Business Builder grants to support small- to medium-size dairy enterprises. It also provides online resources to support dairy businesses through webinars and technical assistance.
The four companies have committed to sharing their knowledge gained with the wider dairy industry.
Cedar Grove Cheese of Plain, Wisconsin, will scale a model liquid waste-to-fertilizer system for small-sized dairy processors. The solution will convert wash water into marketable fertilizer, which is expected to be relatively affordable for small- and medium-sized dairy plants. The project will result in recovery and marketing of nutrients from biosolids remaining after treatment of cheese plant wash waste.
GoodSport Nutrition of Evanston, Illinois, is expected to raise consumer awareness about the ability of dairy products to deliver effective hydration before, during and after exercise. That could offer potential for dairy products to access the more than $8.3-billion sports-beverage market.
GoodSport Nutrition’s international specialists will attend select sports-health-professional tradeshows to present scientific research about dairy's hydration properties. They will target decision-makers and influencers such as registered dietitians, strength and conditioning coaches, and sports-medicine doctors. Sampling onsite will aim to accelerate acceptance of dairy-based drinks as a sports-beverage choice. The project is expected to advance further product development and entry of other dairy-based sports-nutrition products. It also can create value for a dairy byproduct previously considered a commodity.
Milk Specialties Global of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, will evaluate the potential nutritional benefits of a low-value dairy byproduct in animal feed. If successful the expected nutritional benefits will create both a new market and greater price for commodity items. That also is expected to incentivize development of additional premium feed products to justify a value-added price for what's currently a processing byproduct.
A consortium, headed by Specialty Cheese Company of Reeseville, Wisconsin, will provide market-access services for a group of small-scale cheese producers to increase export opportunities via consolidated shipments to the Middle East and Japan. That is expected to increase the competitiveness of the cheese producers by reducing shipping costs and providing export expertise. The funds provided will enable the consortium to validate a model pilot program that can be replicated in other domestic geographic areas as well as being capable of expansion to other international markets.
The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance is a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Visit cdr.wisc.edu/dbia for more information.