Food Industry Conference Season: What to Attend and What to Do There

The food industry conference season kicks off in July with a whirlwind of events. Due to limited time and budgets, potential attendees may have to pick and choose which conferences to attend and which to skip. To help you decide, we've provided a quick rundown of three major conferences in July. Here's the who, where, and what-to-do of our favorite conferences.

IFT18: A Matter of Science + Food

When: July 15-18, 2018

Where: Chicago, Illinois


Who: The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) focuses on creating a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply that reaches every person on the planet. Their conference features real-world case studies, scientific poster presentations, and a multitude of avenues for peer exchange of information.

Can't miss event: Daymond John of FUBU and Shark Tank fame will emcee the first ever IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge. During this high stakes contest, six finalists will pitch their innovative ideas to judges from various sectors of the food industry. The winner will win $25,000 and the title IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year. The audience will have a chance to select their own winner who will receive $5,000.

2018 American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) Convention

When: July 19-21, 2018

Where: Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri


Who: The AAMP, North America's largest meat trade organization, includes packers, processors, slaughterers, retailers, and catering operators. They assist members with inspection-related issues and are authoritative providers of information regarding compliance and food safety.

Can't miss event:  There are a number of popular events at the AAMP Convention. The "Ask the Lawyers" sessions give business owners a chance to ask questions about FMLA, ADA, termination procedures, and more.

However, we have to recommend the American Cured Meat Championships as the one can't-miss event. America's best meat masters compete in 29 classes to see who takes home the top prize. Inductees into the Cured Meats Hall of Fame will also be announced in this session.

International Foodservice Distributors Association SMart Conference

When: July 22-24, 2018

Where: The Vinoy Renaissance, St. Petersburg, Florida


Who: The IFDA details practices and processes to make food delivery to restaurants and cafeterias safe. Thousands of companies are involved in the restaurant industry, and the IFDA ensures that all of them are on the same page in terms of food safety. They provide research, education, and industry forums, and their SMart Conference offers an amazing opportunity for networking and learning industry insights.

Can't miss event: Be sure to attend at least one of the networking events at SMart. Attendees wear ribbons that show particular interests, like technology, branding, or culture. These ribbons allow participants to quickly find others with similar interests to share ideas. You'll go home with a set of valuable contacts and new friends.

Conference season for the food industry is a time for meeting new people and learning new ideas.

The breakneck pace of day-to-day operations can make keeping up with new developments difficult. These conferences provide a relaxed and fun opportunity to network and catch up with recent innovations and disruptions in the food industry.