The excitement was palpable this summer as IFT’s reimagined annual event returned to Chicago’s McCormick Place after two years as a virtual event. Recognizing the world has changed since COVID-19, the in-person IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo that took place July 10–13, 2022, was complemented by a strong virtual presence, resulting in a more inclusive event with something for everyone.
The turnout was strong. Almost 15,000 science of food professionals traveled to Chicago to take part in the live keynotes, panels, and bustling food expo, while over 500 virtual participants accessed livestreamed sessions and took part in virtual meetups and conversations.
Attendees from 68 countries, including academic researchers, industry product developers, students, regulators, suppliers, and others, came together to debate and ideate around this year’s theme, “Hacking the Food Supply: Can We Synthesize a More Sustainable Future?”
The four-day agenda featured event classics, including more than 500 poster presentations, the student product development competitions and College Bowl, the Achievement Awards ceremony, division socials, and a lineup of high-caliber keynote and featured speakers. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, mimosas, and bagpipes heralded the return of the food expo, which included 847 exhibitors sampling food ingredient innovations, showcasing the latest technologies, and unveiling groundbreaking solutions.
IFT FIRST also brought to life some aspects of the event that debuted virtually, including the Business FIRST programming track, complete with its own stage on the expo floor, and the popular multi-session conversations that brought together on-demand scientific session presenters to discuss a set of guiding questions. “It’s critical to lean into a 360-degree environment of learning and knowledge transfer where attendees can learn from both presenters and other attendees in a more intentional way,” explained Jay Gilbert, director of scientific programs and career pathways at IFT. Registered IFT FIRST attendees can visit iftfirst.org to access all on-demand content until Dec. 31, 2022.