The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) announced that it will transition the IFT20 Annual Event and Food Expo, slated for July 12-15 at McCormick Place in Chicago, to a virtual event experience. The move comes in an effort to prioritize the health and safety of participants and the broader community throughout current and anticipated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After thoughtful consultation with leaders and partners within the food industry and academia, IFT’s board of directors made the decision to transition IFT’s onsite Annual Event and Food Expo into a virtual event experience,” said IFT President Pam Coleman in a statement. “We believe this to be the best and safest course of action in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic developments.”

The IFT Annual Event and Food Expo, which has taken place for 79 years and attracts upwards of 20,000 global attendees, highlights the latest trends, solutions, and insights shaping the food ecosystem. Announcing the change now will allow IFT’s valued award recipients, attendees, exhibitors and stakeholders the time needed to make necessary travel and planning adjustments, as well as keep focused on their important work of ensuring the safety and availability of our global food supply.

“It would be a disservice to the members of our community and the broader food ecosystem if we were to cancel IFT’s annual event in its entirety,” said IFT Chief Executive Officer Christie Tarantino-Dean. “We chose to transition to a virtual event to provide a safe and inclusive platform for the global science of food community to convene, share, and learn — a purpose that is more important than ever before. We are excited about the new opportunities this presents and look forward to providing informative virtual programming.”