The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organization committed to advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system, announced that registration is now open for IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo, which is being held July 16-19, 2023, at McCormick Place in Chicago. 

Ingredient providers, business leaders, product developers, food scientists, innovators, and science of food professionals from around the world will attend IFT FIRST (which is an acronym for Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology) this year. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend educational sessions hosted by some of the top minds in the science of food, as well as visit the world’s largest B2B food innovation expo in North America featuring the latest in food ingredient, equipment, processing, technology, and packaging solutions.

“IFT FIRST is one of the most important food events in the world as it unites the visionary leaders guiding the global transformation of our food supply and provides them with a unique platform to share cutting-edge ideas, demonstrate modern food system solutions and collaborate on ways to ensure a healthier and more sustainable future,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean. 

The theme this year is Innovation in a Time of Crisis: Can We Future-Proof the Food System? Each scientific and business session is an extension of the theme. Topics include upcycling, sustainability, and turning food waste into profit; food tech innovations that are changing how the world eats; the important role science plays in health and nutrition; food safety preparation approaches; as well as how consumer food choices are impacted by a crisis. 

Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney, will deliver the opening keynote, “Embedding Innovation into Everyone’s DNA,” on Monday, July 17. This session covers common mistakes companies make when advancing innovation throughout their organizations. Wardle will also share his personal successes at Disney, including how attendees can also make creativity tangible, innovation easy, and the process enjoyable.

The second day keynote on “Innovation Across the Supply Chain for Healthy People and Planet” will include winners from the second annual Global Food System Challenge, an initiative created and funded by the Seeding The Future Foundation to inspire the development of game-changing innovations that will help transform the food system. A total of $1 million is awarded every year to the winners.  

The Seeding The Future Foundation is also offering $15,000 in prizes for The Pitch, which is being held in the Startup Pavilion on the IFT FIRST expo floor. One hundred food or food-related startups will have the opportunity to participate in a multi-stage rapid-pitch competition spanning three days. The grand prize winner of The Pitch will receive $10,000, with the two runner-up companies receiving $2,500 each. 

To register for IFT FIRST, click here. IFT members receive a special discount to IFT FIRST. To become a member or learn more, go to