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Frequently Asked Questions

IFT is pleased to share some exciting news.

IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo will make its return July 10 – 13 with a brand-new experience that will include the ever-popular food expo live and in-person, and a virtual experience. Explore some frequently asked questions featured below. Be sure to return regularly for updates as we get closer to the event. We hope to see you at IFT FIRST!

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • General Event Questions

    Q: When and where will IFT FIRST be taking place?
    FIRST is scheduled for July 10-13, 2022, at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

    Q: I’m familiar with IFT’s Annual Event and Food Expo. What is IFT FIRST?
    A: FIRST—Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology—is IFT’s response to the transformative nature of the global food system. It is a place where professionals can discover the latest global trends, newest innovations, and cutting-edge solutions while making strategic connections to advance their business and careers.

    Q: What is a hybrid event and what does it entail?
    A: Hybrid means that IFT FIRST attendees will be able to attend activities both in-person and online. This format combines learning and networking across both an in-person and virtual experience via a robust digital platform.

    All IFT FIRST participants will have access to on-demand sessions and networking. All featured sessions will be live-streamed onto a virtual platform. Participants who attend the food innovation expo will be able to network and connect in-person with suppliers who have the latest information on food ingredients, instrumentation and lab equipment, technology and more.

    Q: Do you need to be a member of IFT to attend the IFT FIRST event.
    A: No, you don’t need to be an IFT member to attend the event, but we would love to have you join our association. Explore our membership options.


    Q: How do I find out about being a IFT FIRST exhibitor?

    A: For more information, submit your request for a IFT FIRST prospectus.


    Q: How do I find out about additional sponsorship and advertising opportunities for IFT FIRST?
    A: Reach out to Susan E. Young (East Coast, Midwest and International) or Bonny McColl (West Coast, Midwest, and Canada) for more information.

  • Logistics

    Q: When will registration open?
    A: Registration for IFT FIRST officially opened on March 1, 2022, however, be on the lookout for early bird opportunities to secure your spot ahead of the crowd.

    Q: Will IFT require vaccinations or masks to attend IFT FIRST activities?
    A: IFT is working with health providers to determine the best course of actions to keep participants safe during the in-person portion of the event. For more information on COVID-19 protocols please see the Health and Safety information.

    Q: Will there be housing accommodations and shuttle service available during IFT FIRST?
    A: Yes. Housing can be booked at the time of registration. Shuttle service will be offered from official hotels. For more information, visit the Hotels page.

    Q: I'm an International Attendee, where is my Visa letter?
    A: You must complete your IFT FIRST Annual Meeting and Expo registration with payment to receive an official Visa invitation letter. During the registration process if you choose a home country outside of the United States, a prompt will pop up to ask you if you need a visa letter. Please note the ticketed events and Short course registration does not qualify to receive the Visa/letter of Invitation.

    Once you have completed the registration process a personal Visa/Invitation letter will be sent via email within 24 hours. If for any reason your Visa request is denied, IFT will refund the registration. Visit our Global Traveler page for my information regarding Visas.

  • Registration

    Q: Is there a family member registration option?
    A: Yes, family members can be added to your checkout at the end of the registration process. No one under the age of 18 will be allowed to attend IFT FIRST. If you need childcare, please reach out to your hotel concierge for list of services.

    How do I obtain an invitation letter (or Visa letter) for me, and/or a family member?
    A: During the registration process, click on the appropriate box to request your Visa letter – and a letter for each registered family member. No one under the age of 18 will be allowed to attend IFT FIRST. If you need childcare, please reach out to your hotel concierge for lists of services.

    Q: Will there be an in-person Expo only registration option?
    A: Yes, attendees can elect to register for the Expo exclusively. Review the registration page for pricing information.

    Q: Can I register in person, onsite?
    A: There will be no onsite registrations for IFT FIRST. Attendees and Exhibitors must be registered prior to coming onsite for badge pickup at McCormick Place, Level 1.

  • Hotels

    Detailed information regarding hotel accommodations for IFT FIRST can be found on our Hotel webpage.

    Hotel Accommodations

    Q: What are the COVID guidelines for hotels?
    A: Guidelines are different for each hotel but can be found on the registration site when booking your hotel room, or directly on the hotel’s website.

    Q: Can I register for housing first, and go back and register for the event later?
    A: To receive the group housing rates, attendees must register first. If you book a hotel room on your own, you may not receive the contracted housing rates. You can register first and choose to book housing later on the registration site.


    Q: Where can I find hotel rates and a map of the hotels?
    A: We are excited for attendees to join us in Chicago! Hotel accommodations can be booked during the registration process. Click here to see the official hotel rate listing and a map of hotels.

    Q: How do I cancel my hotel?
    A: If you booked your hotel during registration, please email [email protected]. If you booked your hotel on your own, contact the hotel directly.

  • Special Accommodations

    Q: Can I request a wheelchair?
    A: Yes, during the registration process there is a “special accommodations” request section. Make the request for your special need there, and it will be fulfilled onsite upon your arrival.

  • Onsite Information

    Q: What are the hours for check-in and badge pick up?

    A: IFT will hold advanced in-person Event Check-in at McCormick Place, Level 1. All Registrants must pick up their own badge during the dates and times listed below. In addition to badge pickup, individuals will also be able to complete event entry requirements for COVID (see health and safety for specific requirements) or handle any administrative issues related to attending IFT FIRST.

    • Sunday, July 10th 8am-6pm CST
    • Monday, July 11th 6:00am-5pm CST
    • Tuesday, July 12th 8am-5pm CST
    • Wednesday, July 13th 8am-4:30pm CST

    Q: Will cash be accepted onsite at IFT FIRST?
    A: No, we are not taking any cash or checks onsite. There will be no onsite registrations for IFT FIRST. Attendees and Exhibitors must be registered prior to coming onsite for badge pickup at McCormick Place, Level 1.

    Q: What restaurants are near the IFT FIRST venue?
    A: There are a plenty of restaurants near the McCormick Place convention center where you can experience some of the great food Chicago has to offer.


  • Transportation

    Detailed information regarding transportation for IFT FIRST can be found on our Travel and Transportation webpage.

    Q: What are the hours for the shuttle, and how often does the shuttle run?
    A: Shuttle bus service will be provided from stops near official IFT Hotels. Hotel shuttle bus routes can be viewed here.

    Q: Where/how much is baggage claim?
    A: TBD- check back weekly for additional information regarding baggage claim.