The year is 1795 and as the armies of revolutionary France tore up the map of Europe to build an empire, Napoleon and his generals desperately needed a solution for a problem that would lead to the enduring saying: “an army marches on its stomach”.

To better feed the armies of France, a food preservation prize of 12,000 francs (£26,000, 2016) was offered to the researcher who could invent a new method of extending the shelf-life of food.

15 years later, confectioner Nicolas François Appert claimed the prize by devising a method of heating, boiling and sealing food in airtight glass jars. He used the money to set up a canning factory, which remained open until 1933 before Bryan Donkin and John Hall acquired the patents for the modern canning process.

It took 14 years of experimentation before Nicolas was able to perfect his product without ever understanding the science behind how it worked.

Fortunately today, concept and packaging tests are run much faster by highly skilled research professionals and the emergence of automated research tools. To learn more about our automated tools, please click here.

Daniel Evans

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Daniel Evans

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