The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) said its annual event will return both in-person and online with a new and improved lineup of content and programming. IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo (FIRST is an acronym for Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology) will take place July 10-13, 2022, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The event 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, said Chicago-based IFT. 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 said the programming will center on how the following areas of the global food system contribute to a more sustainable future: novel technology and innovation, sustainability, heath & 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 fewer 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, IFT said.

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, IFT said. 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.

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, IFT said. 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 that 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, IFT said.

In efforts to ensure the safety of all attendees, IFT partnered with Epistemix, a third-party modeling system that predicts the progression of potential disease outbreaks, to help determine the necessary protocols to implement at the event based on expected attendee risk levels. More information about IFT FIRST’s health and safety measures can be found at Additional details about the event will be shared in the coming weeks across IFT’s channels and at