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Home Schedule Know Before You Go for IFT FIRST In-Person Attendees

Know Before You Go for IFT FIRST
In-Person Attendees

Are You Ready?

The IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo is here! After more than two years away, the annual event has returned. Whether you have been to an IFT annual event in the past or this is your first time attending, we promise this year will be a completely reimagined experience that will captivate and inspire.

Before you head to the event, be sure to carefully review this page for important information and links that will help you to have the best possible experience at IFT FIRST.

Feel free to bookmark this page before you get to McCormick for easy reference.

Top 10 Tips to Prepare for Your IFT FIRST Experience

  1. Start planning your agenda. View the schedule to see what is happening day-to-day.
  2. Download the official IFT FIRST App via your preferred app store. The app will allow you to access times and locations of all IFT FIRST programming and social events; build out your personalized schedule, get real-time notifications, and more!
  3. Explore the IFT FIRST Advanced Program and Expo Planner. Utilize the planner to map out your entire experience where you can save your must-see exhibitors and sessions. NOTE: Your selections in the planner will automatically sync to the IFT FIRST app if you use the same email address to sign up for both.
  4. Check out the IFT FIRST Food Expo floor plan. See where more than 800 exhibitors will be located and get an idea of which ones you’d like to visit. View the floor plan.
  5. Dress for the occasion. Dress for the event is business casual, so pack accordingly. Since meeting room temperatures and personal comfort ranges may vary, a light sweater or jacket is recommended. Also, you may wish to wear comfortable shoes as walking distances in McCormick Place can be long.
  6. Prepare for the weather. In July, Chicago has average highs of 84°F (29°C) and average lows of 66°F (19°C).
  7. Update Your LinkedIn Profile. The networking opportunities at IFT FIRST will be endless. Make sure your profile is current, so you’ll be ready to connect with your next staff member, mentor, or mentee.
  8. Engage with Braindate. This is a peer-to-peer connection platform that helps you talk and network with others who are passionate about similar topics. Explore the Braindate platform and start building meaningful connections right away.
  9. Sign-up for an IFT FIRST Short Course. Thinking about taking the Certified Food Science Exam or want to know more about food labeling requirements? There’s a course for that! Short Courses are available in-person and virtually on July 10.
    View course offerings.
  10. Get Your Social Hopper Pass. For only $75, access your preferred combination of division socials and other networking events to connect with old colleagues and meet new ones - happening exclusively on the evening of Monday, July 11 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
    Learn more.

Once You Arrive at IFT FIRST

This is important information to note once you arrive onsite at the event.

Event location

IFT FIRST is being held July 10 -13 at McCormick Place I 2301 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive I Chicago, IL 60616. More information.

IMPORTANT NOTE: McCormick Place and the entire campus are cashless and that includes the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and the Marriott Marquis. Please be sure to bring a credit or debit card for concession stand purchases during IFT FIRST.  

Map of the Area

Become familiar with the area including where your hotel is in relation to the event and popular tourist destinations.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend that all participants of IFT FIRST be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines, but it is not a requirement to attend. IFT encourages all participants to do what’s best for their wellbeing. To create a comfortable environment for all, hand sanitizers stations will be positioned through McCormick Place. Masks will also be readily available to those who choose to wear one.  Review IFT's Wellness Policy.

IFT is committed to your wellbeing, so we want to share some important tips to ensure you safely enjoy your time in Chicago.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings: This weekend there are many festivals and non-IFT events happening in Chicago and around McCormick Place. Crowds may be unusually large, so be mindful of your surroundings.
  2. Utilize suggested transportation options: We encourage you to take the IFT shuttle to and from the event. If you’re travelling beyond the event or your hotel, take a Lyft, Uber, or taxi.
  3. Remove credentials: Remove your name badges and tags when outside of McCormick or other IFT event venues.
  4. Know your directions beforehand: Take some time to map out the directions to your destination prior to leaving. Stay alert as you travel back and forth.
  5. See something, say something: If you see or experience something of concern while onsite, please notify an IFT staff person or event security stationed at IFT FIRST.
We are here to help you!

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact IFT at [email protected] or by phone, 312-791-6700. 

Pickup your event badge

Be sure to pick up your event badge at McCormick Place, Level 1. Dates and times are listed below:

  • Saturday, July 9 – 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 10 – 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Monday, July 11 - 6:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 12 – 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 13 – 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Access FIRST

IFT FIRST has technology tools to support your entire experience including the Advanced Program and Expo Planner and IFT FIRST Mobile App. Learn more about technology offerings on the Access IFT FIRST page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Recently published changes may require the IFT FIRST app to be resynced on your device. The syncs only occur once the app is hard-closed and reopened.


If you have already booked your hotel through registration, please email [email protected] with any questions regarding hotel accommodations booked through Maritz.

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is still offering hotel rooms at their discounted group rate. Please call the hotel at (402) 593-6018 and ask for the IFT rate.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since IFT’s last in-person event, some hotel services have changed.
In-Room Dining Service and Daily Housekeeping:
Not all hotels offer these services. To verify this information, please reach out to your hotel directly.


Chicago has many great ways to get around the city. In addition to rideshares and taxis, you can also utilize Divvy Bikes and city buses. Check out the transportation page on the event website for more information.

Also, don’t forget that shuttles will be running to and from McCormick Place for all attendees throughout the event. View shuttle information.

Are you driving to IFT FIRST all three days? Discounted parking is available!

Dining and Exploring Chicago

Come discover Chicago’s famed restaurants, renowned museums, stunning lakefront, groundbreaking music, award-wining theatres, 300 parks and greens spaces, iconic architecture – all within 77 vibrant, ethnically diverse neighborhoods.

Here is a list of great Chicago restaurants located near IFT FIRST. Be sure to check out Chicago Concierge’s complimentary service for making dining reservations and planning your exploration during your stay. Please visit Choose Chicago’s website for more information regarding things to do in this great city of Chicago.

Also, don’t forget to leverage the Social Hopper Pass during the evening of Monday, July 11 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to attend your choice of division socials and other networking activities. Enjoy a buffet dinner, wine, beer, and soft drinks for just $75. Social Hopper Pass is less expensive than a night on the town in Chicago.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To ensure a seamless visit to Chicago, be sure to make reservations ahead of time for all restaurants, activities, and special events.

Food Expo hours

The IFT FIRST Food Expo will be open Monday, July 11, Tuesday, July 12 (10:00 am – 5:00 pm) and Wednesday, July 13 (10:00 am – 4:00 pm).

IFT FIRST Merch Stand

Visit the Merch Stand located on the Grand Concourse, Level 2.5 to pick up hats, t-shirts, cold cups, and more. Celebrate your time at IFT FIRST with branded merchandise.

Social Media

Be sure to let others know about your IFT FIRST experience by sharing on your social media channels.
Use our official hashtag: #IFTFIRST

IFT FIRST Programming

The entire science of food community is coming together to experience a reimagined IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo focused on the future of food innovation. FIRST means Food Improved by Research, Science, and Technology and the entire program lineup for this event is guaranteed to help boost your knowledge, accelerate your career growth and provide unlimited opportunities to engage with your community of food professionals.

Food Expo

TASTE. TOUCH. SMELL. DISCOVER at the IFT FIRST Food Expo. More than 800 exhibitors will be here to showcase, demonstrate, and offer samples of the best in trending ingredients, machinery, food and food science intelligence, and much more! Check out which exhibitors will be there and plan to stop by.

View Exhibitor List              Review Expo Floor Plan

PRO TIP: Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to be inspired.

Networking & Socials

One of the highlights of an in-person event experience is the opportunity to network face-to-face. From amazing technical field trips, fun social gatherings, and productive networking events, IFT FIRST makes it easy for you to cultivate your own social experience. Visit the Socials & Networking page on the event website for more details. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your Social Hopper Pass available through IFT FIRST registration.

EXERCISE TIP: Participate in the Fun Run + Fitness on Monday, July 11 from 6:30 am – 8:00 am. Get your heart rate up while raising funds for student scholarships through Feeding Tomorrow, the Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists.

Destination IFT

This area within IFT FIRST is the place to experience innovation and connection with others from around the world. Here’s what you can expect in Destination IFT:

Braindate Lounge
New to IFT FIRST, Braindate is a peer-to-peer connection platform that helps you to talk and network with others who are passionate about similar topics. Visit the Braindate Lounge where a concierge will be there to help you get started.

Business FIRST Stage
The Business FIRST Stage will tackle global issues and showcase trends in food, food tech and the science of food. Don’t miss out on listening to panels focused on Food Waste, Supply Chain, and DEI disparities in the science of food profession.

Cooking Up Science
Watch ingredients and science meld into beautiful bites for you to sample at Cooking Up Science. Our cooking show featuring Chef Charlie Baggs of Culinary Innovations will both educate and entertain you. You won’t want to miss these fun, high energy 30-minute shows.

Fireside Chats
Gather around the virtual campfire to bring the future of food into focus while discussing current trends and opportunities. You’ll want to find time to squeeze these 20-minute conversations into your schedule. Happening only in Destination IFT.

IFT Central
Whether you are looking to learn more about IFT, or have a specific challenge or need, the team at IFT Central can assist and connect you with the right tools and people. Come discover all the benefits for IFT Members. Stay for the food, fun and FREE business headshot.

Startup Pavilion
This is the place where burgeoning ideas and the newest food tech applications live. Learn what the future of food looks and tastes like. Meet the founders making it happen. And, don’t miss The Pitch at the Startup Pavilion on Wednesday, July 13 from 10:30 am – 11:30 am.

Science FIRST

This year’s Scientific Program is like nothing you’ve seen before at an IFT event. This year’s theme is Hacking The Food Supply: Can We Synthesize a More Sustainable Future? All the components of the program layer up to address this key issue. It’s a highly-immersive, discussion-driven experience that will leave you energized, inspired, and informed. From engaging, interactive formats to real peer-to-peer conversations around world’s most cutting-edge science. You can’t afford to miss this program lineup.

Opening Debate

IFT FIRST’s Scientific Program begins with a debate that seeks to answer the question, “Should We Eat More Processed Foods?” Listen to a panel of experts argue both sides of this issue. Cast your vote before and after the discussion. This event will either reaffirm or change your position on this polarizing topic.

Featured Sessions

IFT FIRST brings together thought leaders and speakers representing all aspects of the science of food community with sessions that focus on five critical areas: Novel Technology and Innovation, Sustainability and Climate, Health and Nutrition, Food Safety and Consumer Insights and Education.

Multi-Session Conversations

After the debate and featured sessions, attendees can connect with presenters and peers to engage in further discussion. Learn more about how the Multi-Session Conversations work.

Research Showcase & Posters

The very best and brightest in science of food and innovation will display their research posters. What’s showcased here can significantly impact the future of food. New this year, all posters will be displayed throughout the entire show on the Expo Floor. Participate in ground-breaking conversations around research during the showcase.

Innovation Keynote & Lab

Innovation happens here! The Cultivating Curiosity workshop is where you’ll learn strategies for cultivating creativity, igniting curiosity, and applauding problem solving. Then, apply your learnings to a real-life scenario as you and your peers will be challenged to think bigger and bolder through a practical, hands-on challenge to reimagine the future of food.

IFT FIRST Online Experience

If you are a Total Access attendee, you’ll also be able to leverage all the content available through IFT FIRST’s online platform, JUNO through the end of the year. With more than 130 on-demand sessions, 500 posters in the Research Showcase, this is content that you will want to review over and over again. If you haven’t received a magic link yet, request one via the IFT FIRST Online Experience.

Need Additional Assistance?

Please visit our comprehensive Contact Us page or use the chat feature located at the bottom right of your screen. Additional contact information also is located below.

Registration & Housing
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time
Toll-Free: 800.462.9440
International: +1.847.996.5848

Mobile App, Planner and Exhibitor Directory Site
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Central Time
Toll-Free: 888.527.8823
International: +1.513.527.8823

General IFT FIRST Questions
Email: [email protected]
Toll-Free: 1.800.IFT.FOOD (800.438.3663)
International: +1.312.782.8424

IFT FIRST also provides you a robust experience of emerging science and research, trends and insights, product exploration and discovery, and networking and strategic connections.