Meet the Finalists: Innovation in Food and Beverage

This January, Dallas Innovates and D CEO magazine hosted The Innovation Awards 2020, an inaugural event honoring local people and companies in 13 categories.

Dallas Innovates and D CEO magazine teamed up to present The Innovation Awards 2020, a new program honoring companies and leaders—CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, entrepreneurs, and others—driving innovation in North Texas.

Here are the winners and finalists for Innovation in Food and Beverage.


Buzzballz/Southern Champion

It is said that the best ideas come to us when our brains are completely relaxed. That’s the case for Merrilee Kick, who came up with the design for ball-shaped, canned cocktails that float. The former Plano high school teacher worried that she might break the glass containers she sipped from while lying by the pool, so she devised a colorful, fun, and eco-friendly plastic alternative. About a decade later, Kick has built BuzzBallz/Southern Champion into a brand sold in 46 states and 21 countries and has diversified from her original idea into distilling and private label premixed alcoholic beverages. She keeps her Carrollton-based company on the bleeding edge of innovation by maintaining an ardently customer-first approach. “Don’t get stuck in the rut of ‘Well, this is how we’ve always done it,” she says. “Think about what the customer wants, and why they want it, and then find a vehicle that provides that.” —Brandon Call


Avocados From Mexico

Avocados From Mexico was founded in 2013 as a nonprofit charged with coordinating the marketing efforts of the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association and the Association of Growers and Packers of Avocados from Mexico. In six short years, it has grown to encompass more than 30 marketing professionals at its headquarters in Irving and has more than doubled the volume of imported Mexican avocados to the United States to 2.5 billion pounds of per year. In addition to whimsical digital campaigns and funny Super Bowl commercials, Avocado From Mexico plans to open an avocado-inspired casual dining restaurant in November at Trinity Groves to continue to promote the beloved fruit. For Avocados From Mexico CEO Alvaro Luque, innovation means refusing to settle for good enough: “Innovation to me is somehow refusing to accept the status quo with the belief there is always a better way to do things,” he says. “It’s constant improvement of established models, ideas, and processes to discover new insights and solutions to drive progress.” Brandon Call

PureWine Inc.

David Meadows has made it his mission to end wine intolerance. After two years in the laboratory, he found a way to remove the histamines and sulfites without otherwise changing the chemistry composition of wine. His products, featured in several national publications, have been proven to alleviate the side effects from wine allergies and can even remove the bitter, acidic and oxidized components of already-opened wine. What’s next for the Grapevine-based startup? “Over the next 12 to 24 months we are projecting rapid, smart growth through new market expansions, launch of our next generation products, along with continued brand awareness and product adoption,” Meadows says. “North Texas has a very strong ecosystem to support entrepreneurs…. The strong Texas economy has helped fuel the North Texas innovation ecosystem through a wide variety of investments in startups that are critical to their success.” Brandon Call

E X P L O R E   M O R E

Click each link below to take a closer look at each finalist in all 13 categories.

CIO/CTO of the Year

Corporate Innovator of the Year

Startup Innovator of the Year

Innovation in Education

Innovation in Energy

Innovation in Finance

Innovation in Food and Beverage

Innovation in Healthcare

Innovation in Manufacturing and Consumer Goods

Innovation in Placemaking

Innovation in Retail

Innovation in Technology

Innovator of the Year in Transportation

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