IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo, whose updated brand is an acronym for Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology, takes place July 10-13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, It will bring together the science of food community to solve food-centric challenges and spark innovation to benefit the global population for years to come. More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the in-person event, along with nearly 2,000 expo booths.

The theme of this year’s event, “Hacking the Food Supply: Can We Synthesize a More Sustainable Future?” will explore potential promises and pitfalls in hacking the future of food. IFT FIRST’s programming will explore how the following areas of the global food system contribute to a more sustainable future: novel technology and innovation, sustainability, heath and nutrition, food safety, and consumer insights and education.

“After shifting the IFT annual event and expo online for the last two years, IFT will welcome the science of food community back to Chicago this July with a dynamic and highly engaging in-person experience unlike any prior event,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean. “This year, IFT FIRST attendees can expect a fully integrated experience with reimagined scientific programming, discussions focused on the business behind food and the future of food, as well as exciting networking and engagement activities. Additionally, the event will feature both live and virtual offerings to ensure that travel or other limitations do not prevent attendees from being able to connect, learn, and innovate.”

Attendees can expect more discussions and less lectures, more debate with shorter sessions, and new formats in Science FIRST, while the Business FIRST stage will feature experts from academia, finance, industry, and government to explore potential advantages and limitations of cutting-edge innovations in food.

The Science FIRST program will come to life through panels, keynotes, fireside chats and live moderated discussions, as well as on-demand scientific sessions and research presentations available through the IFT FIRST online platform.

The Business FIRST program, designed to provide helpful tips and strategies for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, and large companies, will feature live panel discussions addressing the challenges and opportunities that come with the science of food profession. Topics range from food waste to innovations on the edge, supply chain impacts, and IFT’s reveal of its recent salary survey research and what it means for equity.

Debating Role of Processed Foods
IFT will convene a debate that asks, “Should we eat more processed foods?” Moderated by ABC News Correspondent John Donvan, advocates and critics from both sides will discuss the pros and cons of food processing, including its effects on the sustainability of the global food supply chain. The debate will kick off programming for IFT FIRST and also be available by livestream.

“Given the vast amount of information, ongoing legislation, evolving research, and continued conversations surrounding processed foods, our organization felt an obligation to organize a discussion that enlightens and informs the broader community around this important and often misunderstood topic,” said IFT’s SVP of Science and Technology, Bryan Hitchcock. “Food is an extremely personal matter and processed foods have become highly polarizing. Our debate will spark a thoughtful dialogue on the role of food processing.”

Before the debate, the audience at McCormick Place will vote either in favor of eating more processed foods or against it. Afterwards, the audience will be polled again – determining the effectiveness of the arguments made both for and against increased consumption of processed foods.

"IFT will convene a debate that asks, "Should we eat more processed foods?" Moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan, advocates and critics from both sides will discuss the pros and cons of food processing."

As part of IFT FIRST’s virtual experience, select Science FIRST and Business FIRST sessions will be livestreamed online for all attendees to engage in whether they are onsite or in the comfort of their own home. Additionally, those looking to connect and engage with other attendees will have several in-person and virtual networking opportunities including field trips, luncheons, courses, and a host of mixers and socials.

To further advance this year’s event and offer an even more tailored experience, IFT FIRST is built on a robust technology platform, which has the capability to leverage an attendee’s profile and engagement to recommend connections with those who have common interests.

As is tradition, IFT FIRST will host the world’s largest B2B food innovation expo featuring the industry’s most comprehensive collection of food ingredient, equipment, processing, technology, and packaging solution providers, allowing exhibitors and attendees to showcase and discover new, innovative products. This program will also include a Startup Pavilion where consulting groups and startups will come together to accelerate innovation, sourcing, and strategic deployment of products.

Additional details about the event will be shared in the coming weeks across IFT’s channels and at iftevent.org. All recorded content will be available on-demand following the event.

About Institute of Food Technologists
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global organization of approximately 12,000 individual members from 95 countries committed to advancing the science of food. Since 1939, IFT has brought together the brightest minds in food science, technology and related professions from academia, government, and industry to solve the world's greatest food challenges. Our organization works to ensure that our members have the resources they need to learn, grow, and advance the science of food as the population and the world evolve. We believe that science is essential to ensuring a global food supply that is sustainable, safe, nutritious, and accessible to all.


Introduced in 2021, IFT FIRST stands for Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology. It is IFT’s response to the transformative nature of the global food system. IFT FIRST is a place where professionals can discover the latest global trends, newest innovation, and cutting-edge solutions while making strategic connections to advance their business and careers. This July, IFT will welcome back the full annual event and expo experience, featuring both live and virtual scientific conversation, collaboration, solution-seeking and strategic connections for all.

The debate will be made exclusively available to registered attendees of IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo. To learn more about the debate and register for IFT FIRST, visit www.iftevent.org.