The Food Innovation Challenge announced the ten semi-finalists for the 2016 competition at a welcome reception at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. The semi-finalists were also matched up with food industry mentors to help guide them through the remainder of the competition.

“The selection pool of applicants we received for the first-annual Food Innovation Challenge was very impressive,” said Mark Matlock, senior vice president of food research at Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), who is serving as one of the mentors. “Our goal now is to help each contestant think critically about all aspects of their food innovation – from the product formulation, to the ingredients they have chosen, to their target customer market and their entire business plan. We want to help these entrepreneurs develop their ideas as much as possible in the coming weeks to see which products have true potential in the marketplace.”

The semi-finalists are:

· Fiery Alyce, Chicago
· Healthy Link Imports, St. Louis
· Indian As Apple Pie, Chicago
· Kathy’s Kitchen, Virginia, Ill.
· Soozie's Doozies, LLC, Union, Mo.
· Stuart Family Organics, Custer, Mich.
· Sweet Freedom Gluten Free Bakery, New Hampton, Iowa
· Think.Eat.Live.Foods, LLC, Wildwood, Mo.
· The Wiser Divider™, Marshalltown, Iowa
· Yumbitz LLC, Clinton Township, Mich.

The finalists have eight weeks to further refine their products and business plans with the help of mentors from contest sponsors ADM and NFS as well as other industry groups and organizations. The finalists will reconvene in Decatur on August 9 where they will present their food concept and business plan to a panel of judges. The winners will be announced on August 11.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to work with these fresh faces in the industry,” said Jim Milano, Managing Partner, NFS. “Our job is to make sure entrepreneurs have the resources they need to be successful. If they have a good product, we are here to guide them and help them take the leap into the marketplace.”

The First Place Grand Prize Winner of the 2016 Food Innovation Challenge will receive $50,000 in seed funding from ADM and $50,000 in services from NFS to help get their food idea off the ground. Additional prizes and services may be provided by other contest sponsors including Aripack, County Market, Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy, Jones & Thomas, Merieux NutriSciences, Millikin University, PTL and Richland Community College.