CHICAGO – March 20, 2024 – The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organization with global members spanning academia, government, and industry, is proud to announce that Justin Honaman, Head, Worldwide Retail & Consumer Goods Go-To-Market at Amazon/AWS – along with Nora Khaldi, founder and CEO at biotech company Nuritas and Asch Harwood, Vice President of Data & Insights at ReFED – will deliver the opening keynote address on “Revolutionizing Food Innovation Through AI” at IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo, which is being held July 14-17, 2024, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Honaman, Khaldi, and Harwood will enlighten IFT FIRST attendees on the powerful synergies between AI-driven innovation and the global science of food community. The keynote, which will take place from 8:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. CDT on Monday, July 15, 2024, will reveal groundbreaking advancements in predictive analytics, precision engineering, biotechnology, and product development, all while exploring the future of a technology that has the power to revolutionize the global food system.

  • Justin Honaman leads the food and beverage segment for the largest online retailer in the world and has extensive experience in consumer goods and retail, including roles at Coca-Cola, Georgia Pacific, Accenture, and EY. Honaman’s experience spans supply chain, ecommerce, data analytics, and digital engagement solutions.
  • Nora Khaldi holds a PhD in Molecular Evolution and Bioinformatics and is the developer of a multitude of innovative research that is used in over 70 countries. She is a mathematician and computer scientist who boasts over 60 patents and spearheaded the integration of AI into the food and beverage industry, revolutionizing ingredient discovery. Under Khaldi’s leadership, Nuritas built the world’s largest natural peptide library, discovering over eight million food peptides.
  • Asch Harwood leads the development and delivery of information and accompanying technical products, including the ReFED Insights Engine that will lead the industry to act on food waste reduction. He has spent over a decade working at the intersection of social change, data, design, and technology, spanning industries and continents at organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations and UNICEF.

“Artificial intelligence has the power to massively change the way the global food system operates. Many recognize AI’s immense value but are unclear on how or when to incorporate it, which is why IFT is launching a series of pre-event and onsite educational opportunities where attendees can learn from some of the top AI experts in the world, including our opening keynote speakers,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean. “Justin, Nora, and Asch will leverage their leadership experience at industry-disrupting organizations to show how companies of all sizes in the science of food community can use AI to innovate new products, quickly solve problems, and transform the global food system at large.”

AI will be a prominent theme at IFT FIRST 2024 and in the months leading up to popular food-science event. A virtual AI workshop on “Unlocking the Power of Artificial Intelligence in Food Virtual Workshop” will include four 90-minute online sessions that take place over a three-week period starting in late April. The program will run from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. CDT on April 23, 25, 30, and May 7, and will be taught by Tasio co-founders Dray McFarlane, Enterprise Solution Architect, and Thomas Altman, Applied Data Modeling. Throughout the virtual workshop, attendees will learn how AI works on a technical level, master prompt engineering, discover cutting-edge tools and real-world use cases, and gain a deep understanding of how to use AI ethically and safely.

Learn more or register for the virtual April course.

The virtual workshop will serve as a primer for an in-person workshop, “Exploring Artificial Intelligence for Next-Level Food Innovation,” which will be held July 13-14, 2024, and is a precursor to IFT FIRST. The workshop, which will dive further into the world of artificial intelligence, will empower participants to explore advanced topics including large language models in business and food, embodied AI and real-world examples through movement and sensory inputs, as well as evaluating machine learning tools such as ChatGPT, Gemini, and Claude.

Learn more or register for the in-person pre-IFT FIRST workshop.

Registration opened earlier this month for IFT FIRST (Food Improved by Research, Science, and Technology), which includes the largest global food science and innovation expo with more than 1,000 exhibitors offering the latest in ingredients, food and food tech trends, food tastings, and exposure to global innovations in food. More than 17,000 attendees from around the world can also experience more than 100 Science FIRST sessions and multi-disciplinary discussions focused on groundbreaking scientific research and solutions in novel technology and innovation, health and nutrition, sustainability and climate, food safety, and consumer insights and education. Meanwhile, popular attractions such as the Startup Pavilion with The Pitch, The Innovation Lab, and the Braindate Lounge will return.

To register for IFT FIRST and receive an early bird discount, go to IFT FIRST Registration.

About Institute of Food Technologists

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global organization of over 11,000 individual members from more than 100 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. IFT works to ensure that its members have the resources they need to learn, grow, and innovate to advance the science of food as the population and the world evolve. IFT believes that science and innovation is essential to ensuring a global food supply that is sustainable, safe, nutritious, and accessible to all. For more information, please visit

Media Contact

Dennis Van Milligen
Director, Public and Media Relations
Institute of Food Technologists
[email protected]

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