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Science Sessions Overview

Collaboration + Innovation: How Can Food Science and Technology Transform the Food System?

From novel processing techniques to sustainable food packaging, novel ingredients, genomic mapping or new health and nutrition breakthroughs, collaboration and innovation are essential for making the food system more safe, equitable, and sustainable.

IFT FIRST will bring together researchers, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs from across the food value chain and from around the world to explore how the intersection of disparate perspectives, disciplines, or contexts sets the stage for transformative innovation.


IFT FIRST 2024 theme circular graphic of science molecules, technology screen, bread on an assembly line, blueberries, and a person in a grocery store aisle at the center

The Science FIRST Program

IFT’s scientific programming is where it all happens – bold ideas, cutting-edge research and a spirit of collaboration focused on connecting global food system communities. Explore how IFT FIRST will deliver a premiere Science FIRST experience for all.

  • Scientific & Technical Forums: These interdisciplinary conversation-style panels will focus on connecting the dots between 4-5 subject-matter-experts. Each forum will focus on a challenging question, called Guiding Questions, facing the science of food community.
  • Individual Presentations: Hear the latest and greatest research, science, and innovations from top science of food professionals across academia, industry and government.

IFT FIRST Science FIRST Program panel discussion with a full audience in a conference room       Close-up of IFT FIRST Science FIRST Program panel of four speakers sitting in chairs on stage       IFT FIRST Science FIRST Program panel of speakers on stage with one speaker standing up near audience speaking into a microphone


Keynotes and Featured Sessions

Each session at IFT FIRST is extension of this year’s theme based on the five focus areas:

  • Novel Technology and Innovation
  • Sustainability & Climate
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Food Safety
  • Consumer Insights and Education

Keynote and Featured Session topics include the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), global and consumer-centric innovation, science-based approaches to prevent foodborne illness, digitalization and disruption, food is medicine, and more. Check out our incredible lineup of world-class speakers!


Science FIRST in the Expo Hall

More than 1,000 exhibitors showcasing food and food science intelligence, non-stop sampling, demos, and tastings. It’s all happening during the Expo along with can’t miss scientific programming including:


2024 Guiding Questions

These five focus areas are the foundation for the entire Science FIRST program including this year’s theme. Explore the questions to help connect the dots ahead of your experience during our Scientific & Technical Forums.

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  • Novel Technology and Innovation
    • How Can Novel Technologies and Innovations Be Created in an Environment of Consumer Mistrust, Anxiety, and Pseudoscience?
    • What Factors Contribute to Product Success and Why Do So Many Products Fail?
    • How Can Cross-Functional Teams Move from Competitive Work to Collaborative Problem-Solving to Achieve Successful Results?
    • What Production Technologies, From Farm to Processing, Help Improve Bioactive Compounds and Nutritional Quality of Ingredients?
    • What Packaging Solutions Are Contributing to the Reduction of Plastic Waste?
  • Health & Nutrition
    • How Can We Effectively Collaborate to Deliver a Healthy, Sustainable Food System?
    • Are Plant-Based Alternative Foods a Healthier Choice?
    • What Opportunities Does Personalized Nutrition Present in Food Science and Product Development?
  • Sustainability & Climate
    • Which Innovative Solutions Addressing Food Loss Throughout the Food and Beverage Value Chain Are Proving Effective and Generating Measurable Value for Food Systems?
    • How Are Climate Shifts Impacting Nutrition and Quality of Our Food Supply?
    • How Can We Harness Product Side Streams to Create New Value and Enhance Circular Economies?
    • What Scientific Advancements Are Leading the Way in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
    • Which Innovative Solutions Addressing Food Loss Throughout the F&B Value Chain, Are Proving Effective and Generating Measurable Value for Food Systems?
  • Food Safety
    • How Can Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning Support Food Safety?
    • What Is the Relationship Between State-Level Actions and National-Level Impacts in the Context of Additives?
    • What Risks Do Chemical Contaminants in Food Pose and How Can Science-Based Strategies Address and Mitigate Them?
    • What's the Latest on FDA's Closer to Zero Action Plan That Aims to Reduce Dietary Exposure to Contaminants in Food?
    • How Can We Avoid the Pitfalls at the Intersection of Regulatory Compliance and FSQA Objectives?
  • Consumer Insights & Education
    • What Insights Can We Gain from Consumer Misconceptions to Proactively Address Future Challenges?
    • How Can Insights from Design of Experiments Be Applied to Enhance Product Design, Considering the Variability in Consumer Behavior?
Check out the IFT FIRST Event Planner to explore Science FIRST programming, exhibitors, networking events, and more.