IFT18 Conference Recap
IFT, or the Institute of Food Technologists, hold its annual meeting and food expo in July and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend the conference this year in Chicago. This was my first time attending the event. I was pretty surprised this conference isn’t traditionally on our radar as dietitians.
As dietitians, we get so many questions about how food is processed, we get questions about the ingredients we can’t pronounce, we even get asked some pretty specific supplement questions. Knowing the right answer when we don’t traditionally have a background in food science and technology can be a little daunting to make sure we’re providing our clients the best possible information.
Cue IFT. This annual conference is packed with tons of informational sessions and a food ingredient and technology expo that is about twice the size of the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) that dietitians traditionally attend. Since this was my first time attending, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so I planned out the sessions I would attend in advance. IFT has a conference app that was super easy to use and access, so I always knew where my next session was and when I had breaks to go to the expo.
If you’re a nutrition professional or just someone who is interested in learning more about the science behind the ingredients in our food, there are three key reasons to attend IFT next year:
1. The Food Expo
It was huge and spanned two different wings of the convention center. There were so many companies who develop ingredients and foods for the products we use each and every day. As a dietitian, it was nice to see products moving back to the natural side of things. There was a clear importance in making sure everything that’s included in our food system, from the food itself to the packaging that it’s contained in, is safe. More companies were taking note of environmental concerns and were working to lower their footprint on the environment.
2. You get to learn from the food and technology experts
The educational sessions at IFT were top notch. I attended sessions like:
- The Human Age: Confronting the Innovation Conundrum
- Innovations in the Natural Savory, Meaty, and Umami Characteristics of Foods Probiotics: Trends, Opportunities, and the Latest Quality-Management Technology
- The Challenge of Meat Alternatives: Stepping Up to the Center of the Plate
- The Clash Between Consumer Demands and Responsible Food
- Clearing the Haze: An Overview of the Edible Cannabis Scene
I learned something new from each session, and I really appreciated the wide variety of topics addressed. Many of the sessions were digestible, even without a food-science background.
3. Job opportunities
If you’re a dietitian or just someone interested in working in nutrition and you’re open to working with the world’s leading food companies, this conference is a networking dream. So many companies I talked with mentioned that they would love to see more dietitians at the expo. These companies need nutrition experts to help them formulate products, define appropriate package claims, and give them a cutting edge on what consumers want from food products. This conference is a one stop shop for making connections in the food industry. Don’t miss out simply because you’re not a food scientist.
Connecting with IFT experts and food scientists from around the world was a wonderful experience. As with any conference, you should expect to have some catch up work and be a little tired when you return from the whirlwind of networking and educational sessions.
Till next time,
*IFT sponsored travel to and from the conference and covered the cost of registration. As always, all opinions are my own, and I only share my honest opinion about products, services and events.