The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) returned both in-person and online with a new and improved lineup of content and programming. IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo, whose updated brand is an acronym for Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology, took place July 10-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event brought together the science of food community to solve food-centric challenges and spark innovation to benefit the global population for years to come. 

More than 18,000 people were projected to attend the in-person event, along with nearly 2,000 expo booths. The expo booths included a number of companies serving the beverage community. The following are highlights from some of those exhibitors:

At the show, ADM discussed what is driving shopping behavior, while walking through each step of developing on-trend, consumer-preferred foods and beverages. Key focus areas represented in the ADM booth included sustainable sourcing and transparency, individual consumer lifestyles and needs, and plant-based innovation. At a separate booth at the show, the ADM/Matsutani partnership promoted its Fibersol-2 solution by offering a Brazilian orange and grapefruit flavored fiber shot, which delivers 6 grams of fiber.

AFS promoted its AmaTea Max organic guayusa extract and its ability to deliver more focus with fewer jitters, it notes.

AIDP highlighted its ability to support functional trends impacting new beverage development, including beauty from within, immune health as well as gut health. The company also promoted its Turmacin ingredient, a water-soluble turmeric, which can support joint health, wellness and anti-aging applications in beverage as well as functional foods.

California Almonds noted the global trends and implications for almond milk. The board highlighted the global almond milk product launches as well as how almond milk continues to dominate retail sales of milk substitutes in the United States. The company also featured various prototypes throughout the tradeshow, including a whipped mocha-almond boba.

Cargill presented to visitors research related to consumer perceptions regarding sugar and sugar reduction. In addition to the data, the company offered a variety of prototypes featuring its ingredient platforms including EpiCor postbiotic, an inanimate, pH and heat stable ingredient made using baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).

At IFT, DSM invited attendees to explore the latest consumer-inspired vegan and vegetarian plant-based food and beverage concepts, including an oat “milk” drink. Another prototype available was a plant power energy drink, which provides a mix of nutrients and natural energy from plant-based sources like L-theanine from green tea leaves, acerola cherries, and sunflower oil.

Flavorchem highlighted its recently released taste mod sweet, a natural flavor that is formulated to enhance sweetness in beverage applications without sacrificing on taste or nutrition, it says. The company showcased this through a Paloma mocktail control, which contained 15 grams of sugar, and a reduced sugar Paloma mocktail with taste mod sweet. Designed for clean label products, taste mod sweet is vegan, kosher, non-GMO, Whole Foods Compliant, Prop 65 Free and can be labeled as “natural flavor.”

Florida Food Products (FFP) offered a collection of prototypes featuring its clean label food and beverage ingredient solutions. Samples on hand during the show were an indulgent salted caramel, plant-based latte; a black tea with raspberry and rosehip; a pineapple strawberry hydration and energy drink mix; a zero proof hibiscus and elderflower gin fizz; and FFP’s Berry Beet’arita Signature Cocktail during the in-booth cocktail reception on the first day.

GNT promoted its EXBERRY shades through bubble pearl lemonades. The prototypes were offered in North Carolina cherry, featuring EXBERRY shade rubescent red; tropical, featuring EXBERRY shades rubescent red and blue powder; and mango, featuring EXBERRY shades celestial yellow and rubescent red mn.

Gold Coast Ingredients showcased its flavor range in food and beverage prototypes, including a clementine ginger beverage and a vanilla tropical twist drink.

Hilmar Ingredients highlighted its whey protein isolate offerings that support beverage fortification. Those offerings include Hilmar 9020, which is derived from sweet dairy whey and manufactured by a cross-flow filtration process; Hilmar 8000, an 80% whey protein concentration; and Hilmar 7000, a 70% whey protein concentration.

ICON FOODS promoted its portfolio or sweeteners, including allulose, stevia and monk fruit offerings.

Ingredion showcased its 360 Value approach, which is designed to help brands achieve holistic value creation by increasing margins and meeting consumer well-being demands, while also decreasing environmental impacts. Prototypes to exemplify these approaches included a butterfly jasmine plant-based milk tea; a blueberry ginger refresher featuring EVERY protein animal-free soluble egg white protein; and a red raspberry juice and red raspberry type replacer.


EVERY protein animal-free soluble egg white protein
Ingredion offered a blueberry ginger refresher featuring EVERY protein animal-free soluble egg white protein.
Image courtesy of Ingredion


Kyowa Hakko USA Inc. promoted its Cognizin citicoline ingredient and the benefits that it offers in terms of energy, focus and health. The science-backed product is applicable to a range of product applications, including dietary supplements, beverages and beverage bases, processed fruits and fruit juices, and more.

Martin Bauer offered functional beverage prototypes to attendees. The prototypes were a black tea and an energizing water that featured earl grey and roasted mate.

PLT Health Solution promoted its water dispersible Slendacor weight management complex solution. It also highlighted its Dynagenix joint and muscle formula, which also offers water solubility as well as neutral taste properties, it says.

Prinova highlighted its high-quality ingredients, flavors, nutrient premixes, and value-added solutions to the food, beverage and nutrition industries. At the show, the company offered a cognitive beverage prototype. The elderberry plum-flavored drink was developed with a functional ingredient premix, natural flavors and natural sweeteners.

Roquette announced the launch of two rice proteins. With NUTRALYS rice protein, Roquette offers consumers a familiar, safe and nutritious alternative protein with premium quality and high standards of production, it says. The rice protein by Roquette was presented for the first time during IFT FIRST. This launch is a new step in the group’s commitment to develop a new plant-based cuisine that supports healthier lifestyles.

Sweegen announced the commercialization of its liquid stevia sweetener. To highlight the product, the company offered prototypes featuring Bestevia LQ, the liquid stevia sweetener, including a soft drink. Other beverage prototypes available throughout the show were a zero-added sugar hibiscus guava refresher, a zero-added sugar horchata, a zero-sugar peach tea, and 30% reduced sugar lemonade. In addition to Bestevia LQ’s benefits for packaged beverage development, the company also highlighted the opportunities it can offer to foodservice operations.

Synergy Flavors offered a range of prototypes that highlighted its flavorings, extracts and essences. Available to attendees to sample was a matcha rose energy drink, a wild berry cucumber lemonade energy drink, a mixed berry adaptogen tea and a hoppy thyme lemonade.

Tate & Lyle offered a zero proof Margarita prototype, which boasts a 45% reduced calorie and 60% reduced added sugar claim.

Van Drunen Farms/FutureCeuticals highlighted a host of ingredient solutions including its new NatureKnit brand, a dietary fiber that supports gut health created from a medley of upcycled fruits and vegetables. The companies also promoted its Udderly Oats organic oat milk powder and Coffeeberry Cascara lines. Attendees also could sample a cascara tropical lemonade prototype.

Virginia Dare showcased an extensive menu of wellness- and nostalgia-inspired flavors, including an oat milk coffee latte (caramel snickerdoodle flavor); a zero-proof cocktail (pomelo grapefruit paloma flavor); a whey protein drink (funnel cake fried dough flavor); and an energy Shot (pucker patch berry candy flavor).

IFT FIRST will return July 16-19, 2023, at McCormick Place in Chicago as well as continuing to offer online access.