CHICAGO — A key theme at SHIFT20, the virtual show by The Intsitute of Food Technologists (IFT), is whether the food that sustains our world could also be the biggest threat to its survival.

IFT will explore the question through a mix of live presentations and pre-recorded educational sessions during the digital event and expo, taking place July 13-15. Topics will be divided into five areas: health and nutrition, food safety and security, science and technology, sustainability and innovation.

“Each topical area will be anchored by a provocative panel discussion setting the stage for a series of presentations, discussions and fireside chats taking a closer look at the science, technology and research tackling these important issues,” said Jennifer Garcia, public relations and media specialist at IFT. “Anchored in all of this is also a rich technical research library providing the most recent research informing the future of food.”

Semi-live panel discussions will feature debates on food security, upcycling, nutrition scarcity, leveraging data for food safety and balancing business needs while protecting the earth. They’ll be accompanied by a handful of interactive events each day and more than 100 scientific sessions, which will be available on-demand when the show opens July 13.

For scheduled events, attendees will be able to ask questions in real time. For pre-recorded sessions, attendees will be able to reach out to presenters through their virtual profile and ask questions directly.

“This is the safest option to showcase a variety of meaningful content and connect our community,” Garcia said. “We need to approach innovation differently. We need to challenge the status quo. And we need to cross disciplines to gain new insights and change our thinking.”


Scheduled events

SHIFT20 will kick off Monday, July 13, with a keynote address from April Rinne, a member of the World Economic Forum and expert on the new economy and the future of work. She’ll discuss the critical role food, science and emerging technologies will need to play in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Tuesday will feature a live fireside chat and Q&A with special guest Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner of food policy and response for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Attendees will learn about the future of food safety and the benefits of data science and new technology across the food system.

“The fireside chats will be an interview format with industry experts,” Garcia said. “They are an opportunity for more in-depth, live discussions about hot topics.”

Other fireside chats will focus on food security during and after COVID-19, confusion about cellular agriculture nomenclature and the impact of artificial intelligence on the food system.

Eve Turow-Paul, author of A Taste of Generation Yum and an expert on millennials and food, will close out the event Wednesday evening with a virtual product development “hackathon.”

Participants will learn about millennial and Gen Z consumer tastes during the live event and work together to simulate a product development scenario based on what they hear.

“Our live hackathon will pose different product marketing scenarios, and attendees will break out into groups to brainstorm and develop different product solutions,” Garcia said. “It will also include a tour of the virtual expo highlighting innovation product solutions to help inspire creative solutions.”

Click here to see a full listing of SHIFT20 sessions.

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