The expo floor at IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo is designed to exemplify this year’s theme of “Innovation in a Time of Crisis: Can We Future-Proof the Food System?” with a series of food innovation educational opportunities for attendees—all in one location. This includes the world’s largest food innovation expo, panel discussions, a research showcase, a startup pavilion with pitch competition, and a product development lab. 

IFT FIRST, scheduled July 16-19, 2023, at McCormick Place in Chicago, is hosted by 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.

“Everything that makes IFT, its members and the science of food community so special can be found on the expo floor at IFT FIRST. I am so excited to join attendees at the various points throughout the expo floor, each offering a unique perspective on how we can leverage innovation to protect our global food supply in our annual celebration of food science,” says IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean.

The centerpiece of the expo floor will once again be the largest B2B food innovation expo with over 850 exhibitors sharing the latest in food ingredient, equipment, processing, technology, and packaging solutions. Food expo attendees can also enjoy an array of ingredient samples, interactive demos, and product tastings.

The Startup Pavilion will be a celebration of entrepreneurship as 80+ food and food tech businesses in all stages of growth showcase cutting-edge solutions and applications. This year’s Startup Pavilion features startups from 13 countries who have the opportunity to participate in a multi-stage rapid-pitch competition spanning three days for a chance to win prizes totaling $15,000 courtesy of the Seeding The Future Foundation.

Nearby on the expo floor is the Business FIRST stage (Booth S3083) presented by Food Technology and Omnivore, IFT’s flagship magazine and podcast. From regenerative agriculture and food waste to sustainability and plant-based products, each 20- to 30-minute live panel discussion will address the challenges and opportunities in the science of food.

Fireside Chats, located in Booth S2283, offer a more relaxed, informal atmosphere as top experts “chat” with attendees about important topics impacting the food industry today. This year, those topics will include incorporating AI in the food industry, accelerating the product development process, improving sustainability, as well as how to get published in IFT’s Journal of Food Science, one of the longest-standing and most respected food science journals in the world.

Attendees can also enjoy the Research Showcase stage where participants will present their work and conduct a Q&A session. Nearby, nearly 500 posters with the latest research will be on display. These posters will be featured on the expo floor Monday and Tuesday before the space is transformed to the Innovation Lab on Wednesday. IFT FIRST wraps up with an engaging, interactive experienced focused on real-world product development scenarios that will challenge participants to create new food products by using real-world consumer profiles while addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the global food supply today.  

To learn more or to register for IFT FIRST, click here or go to IFT members can save up to 30% on event registration. To become a member, go to