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Innovation Sessions


The innovation topical sessions will be anchored by a provocative panel discussion setting the stage for a series of thought-provoking presentations, discussions, and fireside chats taking a closer look at the importance of innovation in helping to solve important challenges impacting the sustainability of our global food supply and our planet.

Featured Panel with Live Q&A

Stop Wasting Waste – Upcycling Our Future
Tuesday, July 14, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. CT
Technology makes it possible to track, trace, and transform our trash into things we need. This panel and supporting sessions will focus on new ways of preventing waste, and upcycling ingredients and packaging to make our food system more sustainable.

Panelists include:

  • Sanne Stroosnijdr, Wageningen Univ. & Research
  • Jeff Daniel, Blueflux Power
  • Sotiris Bantas, Centaur Analytics

Full Session Program

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  • On-demand Sessions

    2025, the Third Wave of Plant-Based Eating: What to Expect, What Consumers Want, and How the First, Second, and Third Wave Ingredient Enablers and Brands Will Respond 
    Over the last decade the plant-based sector has transitioned from niche to mainstream, showing a staggering growth of over 30% in the last two years. This session will reference proprietary Mattson consumer data to articulate the motivation for initial trial, repeat purchase, frequency of purchase, and attributes that drive liking. The data will show the differences between omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans, and early adopters in this product space. Mattson predicts that the plant-based space will soon see a Third Wave of evolution, similar to the evolution of coffee driven by transparency and cleaner product labels. In this symposium, we will use this data to predict what this evolution will entail and hear from brands their pathways and solutions towards the next generation of products. 

    Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for a Safer, Better, and Sustainable Food Production Ecosystem 
    Food companies that offer innovative products that are safe, sustainable, and that delight consumers will be winners in the marketplace. This symposium will highlight some of the revolutionary technologies that aim to utilize big (quantitative) and thick (qualitative) data from the farm, factory, and sensory insights to offer safe, sustainable, and better tasting products while ensuring speed to market and forward compatibility of the products developed. 

    Beyond Animals: Are Clean and Protein-Based Alternatives Tackling the Protein Challenges of the Future? 
    Today's population will rise by 30% until 2050, reaching a global population of 10 billion people. This growth indicates the need of rethinking in society and especially the food industry enabling it to nourish every human on earth. The creation and recent rapid adoption of plant-based- and cell-based meat can be viewed as a triumph of human centered design over ethical or philosophical niche sectors. However, the developing industry has to face some ongoing challenges like high processed plant-based protein to form meat alternatives, the fact that cultured meat is not very sustainable and, moreover, the creation of complex meat structures using cell-based meat proteins. Through surveys and studies of target users, design thinkers are able to step into the users' shoes and specifically develop and/or improve products for the end consumers. Practical results for meat alternatives can be generated using this method. Therefore, the session covered by five talks presents the revolutionary progresses in cultivation of complex meat structures. Further texturization of plant-based proteins and the development of plant-based meat focusing on structure optimization and nutrient supply associated with product quality are addressed providing information from research and industry. 

    Cannabis & CBD Testing Science Primer 2020: Understanding Methodology and Resources Available to Test Cannabis & CBD Food Sample Types 
    This session will focus on the analytical challenges of testing cannabis & hemp food samples to allow the growth of the scientific knowledge base. Driven by the widespread adoption of cannabis & hemp products in new medicinal and recreational edible markets, the opportunity for scientists to support this market is significant but must be approached with scientific care as the pitfalls due to the matrix interference, trace level detection requirements and limited standardized methodology make this task challenging. The focus will be placed on the analytical methods and instrumentation required to test for pesticide residues, residual solvents, heavy metals, terpenes, and potency. In addition, time will be spent to highlight the differences between testing samples of different forms such as edibles, concentrates, and beverages.  

    Cannabis and Hemp: Regulations and Consumer Trends in Canada and the U.S 
    There is no question that the availability of cannabis and cannabis containing-products has exploded in the marketplace. Regulations pertaining to the legalized use of cannabis and cannabis-containing products can be tricky to navigate, given that many countries have legalized the use of hemp and hemp-containing products, but not cannabis and cannabis-containing products. It is no doubt a confusing topic, not only for consumers, but for industry alike. Canada is the first G7 nation to legalize recreational cannabis under the Cannabis Act and associated Cannabis Regulations. Thus, in this symposium, we will summarize the current Canadian regulations pertaining to cannabis, highlighting the most recent regulations for cannabis edibles. Furthermore, given the legalization of hemp-containing products, but not cannabis, in the United States (U.S.), we will present the current marketplace trends and consumer attributes and expectations that are driving these trends, with a focus on cannabidiol (CBD). Lastly, from an industry perspective, we aim to explore the complexities of marketing hemp-derived extracts containing CBD as a food or dietary ingredient.  

    Empowering Teams with Effective Tastings
    Whether remotely via online video, at a manufacturing facility, or in an R&D lab, the goal of structured tastings (or cuttings) is to build consensus, guide next steps and / or make decisions.  However, too often we leave a tasting realizing that we haven't achieved some or all of our desired outcomes.  This presentation is for sensory scientists, chefs, product developers, quality scientists and anyone that leads sensory tastings and will provide science-backed processes for helping you achieve your goals.  Upon completion you will have all of the tools you need to design and facilitate efficient, impactful group cuttings.

    From Protein Nutrition to Bioactive Peptides: Challenges and Opportunities (Part 1) 
    The potential health implication of bioactive peptides is being actively explored worldwide by many researchers and some have already been successfully marketed. Interest in these areas is burgeoning rapidly. This session will cover a range of topics related to both fundamental and applied work on bioactive peptide production (gastrointestinal digestion, fermentation, bioinformatics), bioavailability, bio-transportation, structure and activity relationship, health implication of bioactive peptides, cellular and molecular mechanisms, and opportunities for their commercialization as novel food ingredients.  

    From Protein Nutrition to Bioactive Peptides: Challenges and Opportunities (Part 2) 
    This session will cover a range of topics related to both fundamental and applied work on bioactive peptide production (gastrointestinal digestion, fermentation, bioinformatics), bioavailability, bio-transportation, structure and activity relationship, health implication of bioactive peptides, cellular and molecular mechanisms, and opportunities for their commercialization as novel food ingredients.  

    Global Design of Clean Label Foods 
    We have three great talks planned. Greg Stucky will explain global perspectives about clean label and clean living, highlighting insights and statistics gained from a survey of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in nine countries including India, US, Canada, UK, Turkey, China, Mexico, France, Germany, and Brazil. This will show differences and similarities across the globe. Mimi Sherlock will showcase an approach for discovering opportunities for clean label innovation. Her case study will show how using an innovative prospective thinking method using LEGO bricks provided a foundation of new insights into the unmet desires for clean label products. Webb Girard will add a culinologist's perspective to global innovation of clean label products, and explain how local culture is used to create new opportunities for building sustainable clean label foods. 

    Laboratory Innovation and Scale-Up of Fortification Technology to Deliver Multiple Micronutrients in Salt 
    This panel will highlight recent developments in food fortification technologies, and report on scale-up, technology transfer, and field deployment aimed at reaching all of the affected populations in selected developing countries. The session will focus on technologies of salt fortification with combinations of iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins B1, B9, and B12, and applications of technology to address multiple deficiencies in India, thiamine deficiency in South East Asia, and birth defects in East Africa. 

    Mythbusters, Sensory and Consumer Sciences, Episode 2020: We Are Still Small and Nimble Enough That We Don’t Need Consumer Research Yet 
    A staggering proportion of new food and beverage products fail. Yet many companies looking to introduce new food or beverage products eschew sufficient consumer testing. This is particularly true in small and medium-sized businesses, which are often pursuing innovative products. It's not uncommon to hear 'we are still small and nimble enough' as a justification for gathering product opinions from friends, family, stakeholders, and other convenient sources rather than users from the target populations. Aeneas Koosis will introduce Mythbusters Episode 2020, featuring three presentations followed by a panel discussion. The presentation and discussion will challenge the shibboleths of sensory evaluation, and touch on diverse aspects of consumer testing, including statistical power, testing methodology, and evolving business and product development practices. The audience will participate by answering survey questions posed by the moderators, pose questions to the panel, and also have questions asked of them in return. 

    Overcoming Challenges in Sensory Quality: Improvements and Developments in Instrumental and Sensory Quality Assurance 
    Quality assurance is critical for ensuring that foods are safe and meeting performance specifications, including the target sensory profile. What challenges are being faced and what new research is driving innovation in instrumental and sensory quality assurance? In this session we hear from four speakers. Maria Laura Montero (Washington State University) will describe how the shelf-life of ready-to-eat meal products submitted to a novel microwave-assisted pasteurization process was demonstrated using sensory, chemical, and microbial data. Zachary Cartwright (METER Group, Inc.) will discuss the importance that sorption isotherms play in texture of food products and how sensory quality can be controlled by utilizing a moisture map. Glen Patrick Fox (UC Davis) will detail how measuring malt and wort composition gives craft brewers more knowledge on fermentable sugars, which will in turn ensure consistency of product and reduce risk of beer being made outside of quality specifications. Carla Conrad (Whole Foods Market, Inc.) will deliver a presentation on maintaining a sensory quality program with a large number of diverse products and how to overcome challenges faced as it relates to focusing on high quality and product consistency.  

    Plant-Powered Performance: Innovation with Functional Potato Ingredients 
    As consumer interest in health and wellness trends continues to rise, formulators have the increasingly difficult job of creating better-for-you clean label foods that offer specific nutritional benefits for different types of consumers, including athletes, weekend warriors, and active individuals of all kinds. This session will explore the exciting product development opportunities for potato products across many food systems. Attendees will engage in a technical education session introducing them to the host of commercially available potato products, a thorough overview of potato varieties and the functionality and adding beneficial attributes for use in developing performance foods.  

    Plant-Based Dairy Alternative: Cheese as a Fermentation Example 
    Plant protein-based products are increasingly popular amongst consumers worldwide. Dairy-based formats are next to meat products the product groups where most plant-based alternatives are being developed and introduced into the market. Cheese is highly popular, yet there is an increasing interest in plant-based alternatives and innovations are moving at a fast pace in this area, but cheeses remain a product group where innovations still are only beginning to develop. This session will focus on the different aspects important for cheese. The technological potential and bottlenecks as well as the sensory aspects (including fermentation) will be shared from industry and academic perspectives. 

    Protein Hybrid Products (Meat Hybrids): A Sustainable Transition to Flexitarianism? 
    Meat is strongly integrated in our diet, everyday habits and cultural traditions: 51% of US consumers don't consider a meal without meat a full meal and 2/3 of Americans think that meat is an essential part of a balanced diet. Protein hybrid products could be a viable alternative bringing meat taste and satisfaction to the consumer along with the benefits of alternative proteins (predominately derived from plants but also from insects). The session aims to respond to the growing demand for protein hybrid products. It will present the advances in the processing of protein blended products, reveal on the nutrition values and techno-functional properties of protein hybrids, technological and process-related dependencies, and influences on the quality and safety of the final products (sausages, meatball, nuggets, etc.).   

    Sensory and Consumer Evaluation of Products Containing Cannabinoids 
    Rarely does an opportunity arise in your career that a whole new category emerges to challenge your sensory foundations, push the boundaries of consumer research, and disrupt the industry. Enter cannabis. Sensory testing of products containing cannabinoids is currently legal in some geographic locations and circumstances. With proper planning, a strong knowledge of the legal requirements and sound sensory science at the foundation, research is possible to leverage the voice of the consumer to successfully and safely guide product development and marketing strategies. In this session, sensory industry experts will provide an overview of the industry challenges, the legal requirements for human testing and success stories in sensory evaluation research including trained panel profiling and consumer research. 

    The Plant-Based Meat World: The Crossroads of Food Technology and Scientific Innovation 
    Plant-based meat has evolved over the last couple of decades. Consumer expectations and awareness of the environmental impacts of meat production have driven the development of alternatives for regular meat. This session will highlight the latest developments in the production of plant-based meat, from raw material characterization to ingredient processing to high-moisture extrusion cooking and post-extrusion product development. It will also summarize some of the knowledge gaps and technical barriers that still need to be addressed. 

    Unlocking Fermentation Technology for a Sustainable, Healthy, and Clean Future 
    In this session the role of fermentation as an enabling technology for a sustainable, healthy, and clean future will be defined. We will discuss how to unlock the potential of fermentation and its use for a wider range of applications in the modern world. The use of fermentation technology for the discovery and development of minimally processed, wholesome, and sustainable ingredients and products will also be detailed in this session. 

  • IFTNEXT On-demand Sessions

    Addressing the Food Industry Need for Agility with Flavor Sensory Data and Analytics 
    Digital is happening all along the food industry value chain. Ecommerce has already disrupted retail, and as blockchain and other technologies are making traceability from field to plate a reality, food service is morphing into a network of small players enabled by Uber Eat and Deliveroo, manufacturing is optimized with supply data and system integration. Still, food product development remains an iterative trial and fail process starting from ingredients rather than starting from consumer preferences. What if food and beverage manufacturers could link consumer preference data down to flavor choice? iSense AG supports the food and beverage companies' evolution towards a more agile business model serving local and personalized consumer needs. iSense AG helps flavor houses efficiency and access to market, delivering higher value towards the growing small and mid-size food and beverage manufacturers segment. We propose to explore concrete examples of how flavor data and analytics can be applied to the management of flavor collections, whether on the food and beverage side or the flavor house side. We’ll also show how flavor choice and product development can be accelerated. 

    Eureka Moments 
    Innovators, creatives, marketers, researchers, and entrepreneurs all get 'stuck' sometimes. As the volume of scientific exploration and volume of publications explodes, problem-solving inputs can feel more overwhelming than useful. We tread and retread the same intellectual territory hoping that we, or our team, will somehow take so many unrelated thoughts or ideas and piece them together in an unexpected way to overcome a challenge. Fortunately, what follows these periods of struggle is often a Eureka moment. That's why we are bringing together food tech experts to each tell a story of confronting a specific moment of doubt, the setbacks and surprises along the way, their Eureka moment, and one big learning from the experience. 

    Global Market Expansion for Startups: Serving Different Cultures and Entering New Markets 
    While constantly encouraging entrepreneurs to develop new products, often we see a lack of bridge to help founders understand different markets and different resources that they could leverage. In this session we specifically discuss entering the Chinese food industry, but the strategy could be applied for many other international markets, such as Brazil, India, Africa, etc. It is critical to have this global mindset for innovators from the United States to create and innovate for a global market and give them tools and knowledge about different markets. 

    Insights and Learnings from Applying Big Data and AI Technologies to Regulatory Food Safety Inspection Data at Scale 
    The session will cover types of scoring systems are observed and which jurisdictions have the highest concentration of perfect scores. Other issues and questions to be addressed include which are the most/least lenient states and cities as measured by the average number of violations per inspection and average critical per inspection; how jurisdictions differ when it comes to inspection frequency and how stated and actual inspection frequencies vary; how we can leverage data to improve inspector scheduling based on actual historical risk of establishments; opportunities to inform and improve inspection equity across zip codes and cuisine types; the performance of chain restaurants vs. independents; and differences and commonalities in performance between retail type mixes, including restaurants, convenience stores, grocers, concession stands, and more. 

    Robotics and the Future of the Food Service Industry 
    In the past two decades, a dozen different industries have transitioned to utilizing robotics. Industries that have adopted robots include mining, chemicals, textiles, electronics, metalworking, construction, agriculture, and transport equipment. In this session, we’ll analyze the economic impact of robotics on these industries in order to gain insight into the potential and probable effects of robotics on the foodservice industry.  In this session, we will talk about these findings and discuss the positive expected impact that robotics will have on the foodservice industry. Intelligent robotic devices are bringing fresh food to locations traditionally known for their dearth of healthy or fresh options. Robotics can keep operations running 24/7, providing access to food anytime. According to the International Food Information Council’s 2017 Food and Health Survey, 55 percent of millennials say convenience is a top driver when buying food.