Impressions from IFT 2023

IFT 2023 is officially in the books and our team had the opportunity to walk the expo floor and take in everything it had to offer, not the least of which were several tasty samples. According to IFT, approximately 800 companies exhibited at the event, and many exhibitors told us that Monday was one of the busiest times they’ve ever seen at a trade show. We noticed there were fewer large booth spaces, with several companies telling us they’re re-evaluating whether a large footprint is a necessity for results at these industry events.

Here are some of our takeaways from the IFT expo

IFT did a nice job of making things convenient for attendees with this year’s floor plan. Like last year, IFT featured an Organic Pavilion, making it easy for attendees to reach out to the various ingredient suppliers in this category. And again, a hefty Startup Pavilion occupied a huge corner of the expo, including a “rapid-pitch competition” for a grand prize of $10,000 to the overall winner. There were also plenty of opportunities for insights gathering, especially from exhibitor regulars Innova and Mintel and their variety of presentations.

Naturally Sourced Colors a Hot Topic

We saw many ingredient suppliers featuring their natural color solutions, especially with how they performed in beverages. With the looming legislation that seeks to prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of food products in California containing red dye No. 3 and titanium dioxide, it made sense that this would be an important message for exhibitors this year. Several companies were sampling beverages and dairy products containing various naturally derived color solutions throughout the show. This story will continue to get attention as it presents challenges to food and beverage companies and opportunities for color houses.

Indulgent Tastes

Ice cream, confections, snack mixes … there were so many indulgent samples being handed out this year. Ingredient companies continue to innovate and capitalize on the trend of better-for-you indulgence as consumers continue to want the best of both worlds. Ciranda showcased their gummies made from reduced-sugar syrups; Cargill featured their reduced-sugar cocoa powders; and FlavorSum sampled a range of mocktail flavors.

Plant-based Continues to Evolve

Innova pointed out what many in the industry may be feeling: that plant-based success hasn’t exactly materialized like what was expected, but that new formats in this category keep popping up. Innova also shared that consumer opinions around the category continue to evolve and opportunities abound for food companies to improve on flavors and nutrition. Plenty of exhibitors showcased their solutions for applications in the plant-based space, and the samples didn’t disappoint. Bioenergy Life Science featured taco-flavored, plant-based meat nacho scoops featuring Bioenergy Ribose, which gave the protein a nice mouthwatering flavor and aroma.

Sustainability Messaging

Food ingredient companies continue to push their stories of responsible sourcing to companies seeking to produce foods that have consumers feeling good about their purchases. From sourcing to processing to production practices, IFT offered a variety of keynotes and breakout sessions focused on this ongoing important challenge. The trade show booth graphics and literature likewise pushed this message to the forefront.

If you attended IFT this year, what were your thoughts? Drop us a comment below.