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How protein diversification will secure the future of our health and planet
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Transforming the future of food protein through diversification

Let’s face facts, when referring to the Gartner Hype Cycle, the alternative proteins industry is currently languishing in the ‘trough of disillusionment’.1

The highs of almost impossible funding rounds, first regulatory wins, and celebrity endorsements are behind us, and investor excitement has given way to consumer questions about the health and sustainability credentials of ultra-processed foods.

In a challenging time for alternative proteins, where funding has slowed and consumer preferences are steering away from highly processed food, what are the next steps for the industry? How can producers broaden their outputs to deliver products that are kind to the planet, meet nutritional needs and remain (or become) affordable for all? Where is the next round of funding coming from and what areas should investors be prioritizing?

Bringing together senior leaders from across the value chain to debate these questions and more, the Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins summit will meet in Chicago on June 17-18, hosted in partnership with FoodNavigator. Speakers include senior leaders from across the value chain, with USDA, Upside Foods, The EVERY Company, ENOUGH, Impossible Foods, Danone, Unilever, ADM and Cargill.

Framed by a fresh program addressing core strategies for global diversification of protein, the summit will provide a forum for food businesses, regulators, start-ups, investors, and technology providers to share ideas and make connections that will lead to industry-shaping collaborations.

These collaborations are the light ahead as the industry starts its ascent up the ‘slope of enlightenment’ (there’s that Gartner Hype Cycle again), and it is clear that the opportunities for alternative proteins are still worth the hype.

New summit location for 2024 – Chicago

America's largest food and beverage manufacturing hub, Chicago is a hotspot for food-tech innovation, making it the ideal host city to welcome protein and ingredients stakeholders from around the world.
Chicago’s diverse and vibrant food-tech ecosystem includes industry staples ADM, impactful investors like Bluestein Ventures and trailblazers at the forefront of innovation including Nature's Fynd and Clever Carnivore. These local players were part of an esteemed advisory board of alternative proteins and ingredients experts who helped shape the summit’s program this year and will join the delegation at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel in June.

Program highlights

The program focuses on future-proofing the alternative proteins sector, exploring how to deliver diversified solutions, and examining opportunities for the next stage of investment and government funding. Experts will guide discussions on consumer-centric approaches to increasing widespread adoption of alternative proteins, and there will be a chance to learn from companies successfully navigating scaling production in this challenging climate.

Alongside main-stage panel debates with industry thought-leaders and lively pitching sessions from exciting start-ups, this year’s summit will feature interactive workshops and a front row seat for exclusive live cooking demonstrations and tastings.

While thought-leadership and exchanging ideas is vital, the connections made at Future Food-Tech summits are what really drive change across the sector. With this in mind, the inaugural Chicago meeting will begin with a World Café – a networking brunch bringing trailblazers from across LATAM, APAC and MEASA together to share trends from around the globe – where delegates will be able to add their voice to the discussion during small roundtable groups.

With the foundations laid for open communication, Udi Lazimy, Founder and Principal at Lazimy Regenerative Impact Partners will set the scene, moderating the summit’s opening panel, “Navigating Global Protein Diversification: Accelerating Next-Generation, Nutrient-Dense Protein Innovation”, a key topic designed with the help of advisory board member Richard Zaltzman, CIO at EIT Food.

Panellists including Julie Willems, Head of Diet & Health at Unilever, will tackle questions on the role that alternative proteins play in a resilient global food system and food security with reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating hunger by 2030. They will dig deeper into how novel proteins – microbial and cell-based specifically – have the potential to meet the dietary requirements of growing populations of people facing malnutrition and health risks worldwide. Finally, Lazimy will press for answers on how multi-stakeholder partnerships can form and accelerate solutions to the scale needed today.

Other sessions of note:

  • Expediting Cultivated Meat Commercialization​ Safeguarding a clear regulatory path for market success – featuring speakers from the FDA, FAO, Gourmey and Integrative Centre for Alternative Meat and Protein
  • Boosting Investor Confidence​ Adapting innovative financing models to overcome the trough of disillusionment – featuring speakers from Supply Change Capital, Barclays, Synthesis Capital, Clear Current Capital and Peakbridge
  • Consumer Deep Dive​ Championing strategies for increased acceptance and adoption – featuring speakers from McDonalds, TUFTS University, McKinsey & Company, and FoodNavigator-USA
  • De-Risking the Scale Up Roadmap and Improving Access to Sustainable Growth Capital​ Featuring speakers from Lewis & Clark AgriFood and Unovis Asset Management
FF0324 Food Navigator Speaker Image

Exhibition, live cooking demonstrations and workshops

Outside of the auditorium, summit delegates can explore the busy exhibition and meet the teams responsible for some of the most exciting technological developments in alternative proteins. Expect live demonstrations and enticing tastings to supplement the summit’s exciting plant-based catering menu.

Breakout sessions, workshops and roundtables offer delegates the opportunity to join the discussion, going deeper into specific topics that are explored in small groups – more details to be announced soon.

FF0324 floorplan

Opportunities for networking

Future Food-Tech’s dedicated 1-1 networking environment is an incubator for business growth, helping the alternative protein entrepreneurial ecosystem to thrive. Onsite there are networking touchpoints throughout the agenda and built into the summit floorplan with a whole room set aside for meeting business targets.

The 1-1 networking platform is available on desktop and mobile app and is all about securing connections before, during and after the event, enabling simple calendar management for those all-important meetings, and paperless detail swapping functionality to keep in touch with key contacts.

Decision-makers across the alternative protein landscape who attended the summit in 2023 included:

FFTP23 - Ecosystem

When​ June 17-18, 2024
Where​ Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel

Find out more information about speakers, program highlights, start-ups, and delegate registration at Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins summit.

Download the summit brochure here. 


1.​ Gartner Hype Cycle. Interpreting technology hype.

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