Today, the canned food industry is worth upward of $90 billion, and it continues to grow each year. Meat and seafood make up around a third of all canned food products sold, and this age-old practice of preserving produce remains essential for humanity. But how did this once-small market explode into the titan of business it is today? Read on to learn a brief history of the canned goods industry.
Before the days of refrigerators, freezers, and artificial preservatives, food would spoil quickly when stored. This, of course, caused many issues for less fortunate individuals who lived meal to meal. People could preserve meat with salt, but fruits and vegetables didn’t have a suitable storage method.
A Frenchman by the name of Nicolas Appert invented canning in 1809 as a way to supply military men with safe food on the battle lines. The process used bottles, although by 1910, more and more people began using tin cans similar to what we use today.
Canning food became popular in the United States around 1812, when businessman Robert Ayars opened the first American canning factory. Located in New York City, his factory produced tin-plated cans that preserved seafood, veggies, fruit, and meat. Thanks to demand from soldiers fighting in the Civil War and other military conquests, the industry boomed.
By World War I, demand for canned products was at an all-time high, and businesses everywhere were seeing huge profits. After the war, these companies remained relevant and continued making newer, safer methods for preservation. In fact, most of these factories were the earliest supporters of providing safe food for the public.
The Future of Canning
As we mentioned before, the canned food industry is worth billions of dollars and steadily growing each year. Even with all the advanced preservation methods we have today, the need for canned goods is still vital for millions of individuals worldwide.
The big trend regarding this industry today is the rise of smaller businesses that provide artisanal food products made with better-quality ingredients. Canned foods are no longer wartime necessities, so companies focus on branding to ensure their inventory appeals to new consumers. This includes implementing creative labels and marketing to specific audiences.
By understanding a brief history of the canned goods industry, you can aid the growth of your own business. Like any industry in America, the canned goods industry became popular thanks to innovative thinkers and hardworking employees. Hopefully, companies will continue to improve their business models to ensure the longevity of this preservation method.