IFT First Event Preview: What to Expect in 2024

ift first attendees

Once again, food scientists, ingredient innovators, governing bodies and food industry professionals from around the globe will descend on Chicago’s McCormick Place for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual convention.

IFT First Event and Expo
July 14–17, 2024
McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

So, what's new? To understand this year's IFT First, it can help to take a brief look back at the 2023 event. Our team personally recalls a plethora of plant-based and alternative proteins. In fact, some joked that if you only looked at featured IFT products, you might think meat and dairy proteins were on the verge of extinction.

But which booths had the longest lines waiting for samples? You guessed it; real meat and real dairy products (including ours). We're curious to see whether there will be a repeat of that phenomenon again in 2024. One look at our list of samples (more on that below) and we think we know the answer.

We also had some fun on the shuttle buses that took participants to and from the IFT First 2023 venue. We got so many comments on our creative videos that we decided to up the ante this year with an even more "epic" production featuring our own talented cast. Watch for it on the shuttle buses!

This year’s IFT First theme is Collaboration + Innovation: How Can Food Science and Technology Transform the Food System? Building your network and connecting with peers is at the heart of IFT First, but there’s much, much more. 

Below, we’ve provided a snapshot of this year’s highlights to build anticipation and help you know some can’t-miss opportunities.

Educational Sessions

Whether you enjoy a more intimate setting as part of a fireside chat or prefer the electric atmosphere of a main session, IFT First has something for everyone in the food industry.

Dozens of presentations on ingredient innovations, regulatory updates, food science, product launches and the business of the food industry will be featured. Just some highlights we plan on checking out include:


  • Revolutionizing Food Innovation Through AI
  • Seeding the Future Global Innovation Speed Pitch Event
  • The Future of the FDA's Food Program

Featured Sessions

  • F&B Ecosystem of the Future: Harnessing the Power of Innovation, Collaboration, and Diverse Thinking
  • Ultra-processed Foods (UPFs)
  • Empowering Nutrition Security: A Vision for Health Equity and Impactful Partnerships
  • Advancing Food System Innovation Through Novel Technologies


  • A Simplified Approach to Shelf-Life of Intermediate & Low-Moisture Foods
  • Certified Food Scientist (CFS) Preparatory Workshop
  • Food Science for the Non-Food Scientist
  • Exploring Artificial Intelligence for Next-Level Food Innovation
  • Understanding GRAS and Product Development

View additional sessions on the IFT website.

Food Science and Innovation Expo

Many food industry professionals come to IFT First hoping to discover the latest ingredients that can fuel new application ideas and transform their formulation or product line. The Expo features a bustling marketplace atmosphere that engages the senses with the smell of fresh-baked products, the sights of innovations in action and the tastes of indulgent flavors from more than 1,000 exhibitors.

In the heart of the Expo hall, you’ll find the Grande Custom Ingredients Group booth #2423 where you can connect with our food scientists and formulation specialists. They’ll answer questions and help you explore how our proprietary, clean-label whey protein ingredients can help you overcome your toughest formulation challenges.


We feature wholesome, real food made in the heart of the Midwest, and we’ll offer samples of our latest product innovations, including:

Indulgent Chewy Cookies

New for 2024! Featuring All-New Grande Durato™! Maintain indulgent, fresh-baked quality, texture and flavor throughout sweet baked goods’ shelf life! We're launching this innovative ingredient at IFT and entering the baked goods category with anticipation for big things to come.

Delicious Beef Queso Dip 

Featuring Grande Gusto®, replacing cheese or cheese powder for better texture, flavor & reduced sodium. We're curious to see what other sodium-reduction ingredients might be featured and how Grande Gusto stacks up. Our queso dip will also feature Grande FestoTM, improving umami, texture and yield in the spicy taco meat.

Decadent Protein Bar Bites 

Featuring Grande WPCrisp® whey protein crisps, achieving ideal texture, flavor & nutrition.

ift first 2024 map with gcig booth

Please stop by! Prefer to schedule a time to connect with our team while at IFT First? Reach out to us!

Networking Opportunities

A big part of IFT First is the networking and social gatherings where food industry professionals can connect with peers.

IFT First has organized more than 40 networking events throughout the 4-day conference where you can “find your people.” Niche offerings allow individuals to connect with like-minded professionals so they can fuel innovation and foster relationships. Some examples include:

  • IFT Global Section Compliance and Programming Power Hour
  • IFT Early Careerist Resource Group Networking Hour
  • IFT Women's Resource Group Networking Hour
  • Neurodiverse & Disability Networking Hour
  • Dairy Foods and Product Development Division Social
  • Council of Food Science Administrators (CFSA) Luncheon

Note: Several socials are ticketed events. Check the IFT website for a full list and more information. 

Will We See You There?

Our team of food scientists and innovators will be on hand at booth #2423 to answer questions and help you brainstorm ideas and solutions on the spot for your toughest formulation challenges. Be sure to stop by. Meanwhile, learn more about our featured products and view related resources on our dedicated web page for IFT First attendees.

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