Lactose-free premium ice cream brand Beckon won the NOSH Live Summer 2019 Pitch Slam, giving its founders support to spread the joy of ice cream even further.
The slam, in which participants had roughly seven minutes to pitch their product and field questions from the judges, was one of the final events of the two-day conference. On the line for the winner was an advertising package valued at $10,000.
Other contenders in the pitch slam included SMPL, which uses superfoods, adaptogenic herbs and functional ingredients, including CBD and collagen, in a line of organic grab-and-go wellness snacks; Cheddies Crackers, a better-for-you cheese cracker with 100% all-natural cheese and added protein; Crafty Counter Wundernuggets, which offers gluten and grain-free chicken and legume-based nuggets that include protein, fresh vegetables and whole grains; and Prayani, a clean ingredient-focused line of Indian yogurt dips.
The judges’ panel also included Tracy Miedema, Presence Marketing’s vp of Innovation and brand development; Jeff Grogg, JPG Resources’ managing director, Megan Bent, Harbinger Ventures’ founder and managing partner and John Haugen, 301 INC’s founder and managing director. Each judge brought unique questions and insights to the stage about packaging design, taste, functional ingredient dosing and more.
“Something all of our brands today had tons of [was] incredible intuition and instinct when it comes to retail dynamics, a clear point-of-view of where the product delivers, where retailers will expect and want it to live, and what channel the product will perform best in,” Miedema told the audience.
But it was Beckon’s co-founder, Gwen Burlingame, who had “one of the clearest propositions,” Grogg said.
“It’s a well-executed idea,” Bent added about Beckon. “The packaging is beautiful; it stands out — and the taste really performs.”
The brand idea started when Burlingame and Katy Flannery were students at Villanova University; Katy was lactose-intolerant but loved ice cream — and couldn’t find any to satiate her sweet tooth. Originally known as Minus the Moo, the company rebranded under the Beckon name just over a year ago. According to Beckon’s Instagram page, the brand name means ‘motioning enthusiastically and encouraging someone to join in, especially when it is something awesome that simply can’t be missed.’
The recipe uses RBST-free milk and cream combined with a lactase enzyme to create a creamy texture with no lactose, stabilizers or additives, and uses only pure cane sugar. The brand is available nationally in about 900 retailers, including Whole Foods Market, with a MSRP of $5.99.
About 65% of humans have a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). In a market filled with dairy-free options like coconut and almond ice creams, Burlingame said, lactose-free options are often lacking. The brand can live in the premium dairy or nondairy section, Burlingame said, and also attracts both nondairy and dairy eaters alike.
“Once this pint makes it into the home it’s becoming a family choice,” she said.