The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific organization committed to advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system, hosted IFT FIRST July 16-19 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The expo floor at IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo exemplified the theme of “Innovation in a Time of Crisis: Can We Future-Proof the Food System?” with a series of food innovation educational opportunities for attendees. This included the world’s largest food innovation expo, panel discussions, a research showcase, a startup pavilion with pitch competition, and a product development lab.

The centerpiece of the expo floor featured 850 exhibitors sharing the latest in food ingredients, equipment, processing, and technology and packaging solutions. Food expo attendees also were presented with an array of ingredient samples, interactive demos and product tastings.

The following are highlights from some of the exhibitors supporting the beverage market:

Applied Food Sciences (AFS) promoted its specialty botanical extracts for use in food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional supplements. 

AIDP showcased its functional solutions by offering a mushroom coffee containing lion’s mane.

Ajinomoto highlighted its use of technology to tap into umami properties for food and beverage creations. For beverages, the company offered a peach-flavored, no-sugar-added drink.

Apura Ingredients promoted its sweetener portfolio of sucralose, aspartame, ace-K, stevia, monk fruit and allulose. The company featured a Lemonade prototype with allulose and Reb M 95%. 

BENEO launched barley beta-glucans.  BENEO’s new product Orafti β-Fit, a natural and clean label wholegrain barley flour with 20% beta-glucans, is a significant extension of the company’s functional fiber product range, it says.

At IFT23, Cargill showcased its commitment to the food industry with new solutions that offer improved functionality and address prevailing consumer trends from plant-based formulation to improved nutritional profiles, as well as trending product concepts developed specifically for the event. Cargill’s new Gerkens Sweety cocoa powder range is designed for chocolate dairy beverages and similar chocolate-flavored drinks. Gerken’s Sweety cocoa powders are low in bitterness but still maintain a well-balanced chocolate flavor with a sweet perception, the company says. Cargill also used the tradeshow to showcase the possibilities in the functional food and beverage space featuring EpiCor postbiotic. Trendy product concepts included a high-protein fruit smoothie, packed with 22 grams of PURIS HiLo pea protein and a daily allotment of EpiCor postbiotic.


Gerken’s Sweety cocoa powders
Image courtesy of Cargill


DSM featured multiple energy drinks made with a proprietary vitamin and adaptogen premix, containing botanicals along with lower/no sugar options that feature EVERSWEET Stevia Reb-M. The company also showcased plant-based solutions for sports nutrition including ready-to-drink (RTD) and ready-to-mix (RTM) shakes featuring plant protein sourced from canola.

EverGrain highlighted its EverGrain upcycled barley protein. EverPro contains all nine essential amino acids needed for muscle build and recovery, the company says. A 100% soluble protein, EverPro delivers a low viscosity, resulting in a smooth texture and mild to neutral taste, it adds.

Florida Food Products (FFP) offered a collection of prototypes such as an Apple Cinnamon Flavored Cascara Beverage, a Watermelon Basil White Tea Mocktail, a Fermented Carrot Passionfruit Chamomile Beverage, and a Nitro Coffee using Guatemalan cold brew coffee concentrate from its Javo division of the business. 

FruitSmart offered prototypes featuring their juice and tea concentrates. Attendees could sample a Northwest Berry Tea that contained Shank’s green and black tea concentrate, as well as a POG drink, which contained FruitSmart’s passion fruit juice concentrate, orange juice concentrate and guava juice concentrate, and Shank’s fruit flavors.

FutureCeuticals offered a prototype of a Raspberry Lemon Pick-Me-Up beverage featuring Coffeeberry coffee fruit juice concentrate, CognatiQ and raspberry powder.

GNT promoted its EXBERRY shades, including EXBERRY Blue For Beverages that meets the demand for a natural blue color that remains stable in beverages. The EXBERRY Blue For Beverages technology is suitable for variety of shelf stable beverages including sports drink, juice drinks, flavored waters, carbonated beverages and alcohol beverages up to 20% ABV, the company says.

Gold Coast Ingredients showcased its flavor range in food and beverage prototypes, including a Peach Flavored Sweet Tea.

Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) promoted its premium line of MALTRIN maltodextrin with a Sparkling Mocktail prototype containing MALTRIN QD and an Instant Iced Mocha prototype also containing MALTRIN QD.

Hilmar Ingredients highlighted its whey protein isolate offerings through a Mixed Berry RTD beverage, featuring PROfunction Hilmar 9020, a clear whey protein concentrate.

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

Ingredion showcased its Be What’s Next in food and beverage. The company exemplified this through a range of prototypes including a Calm and Cool Mocktail from Kerr by Ingredion. The reduced-sugar mocktail features Kerr’s lavender chamomile tea. It also includes Kerr’s Blueberry Not-From-Concentrate Juice and Blueberry Essence to offer a touch of tartness. The company also featured a Plant-Based Sweet Cream Cold Brew Coffee containing plant-based cold foam.

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. The company also promoted its IMMUSE post-biotic patented strain of Lactococcus lactis. Due to its stable nature, long shelf life, and flexible formulation, IMMUSE can be used in a variety of applications, from powders and capsules to functional beverages.

Malt Products promoted its malt extracts, oat extracts, CanRite Panela, and Golden Trim Molasses natural sweetener.

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 Brainberry Blast Cognitive Energy Drink.

Sweegen offered no-sugar added prototypes of a Passion Orange Guava drink and a Blackberry Lemonade.

Synergy featured a prototype of a Nootropic Energy Blend.

Tate & Lyle showcased its latest breakthrough stevia sweetener ― to be launched eminently ― as well as launching EUOLIGO FOS dietary fiber in the USA. The company offered a no-sugar-added Lemonade featuring Dolcia Prima allulose, Tasteva Sol stevia sweetener, Tasteva M stevia sweetener and is fortified with Promitor soluble corn fiber. There also was a Peach Flavored Juice Foam featuring Dolcia Prima allulose, Tasteva Sol stevia sweetener, Tasteva M stevia sweetener and Purefruit monk fruit juice concentrate.

Coinciding with the company’s centennial celebration, Virginia Dare featured a range of prototypes, including a Spiced Peach Cobbler Black Tea Refresher, a Sparkling Jasmine Nojito Zero-Proof Cocktail, a Tropical Lychee Whey Protein Shake Mix, a Blueberry Granola Iced Oatmilk Latte, and a Salted Maple Pecan Brittle Whey Protein Shake Mix.

The IFT Annual Event and Expo will return July 14-17, 2024, at McCormick Place in Chicago.