Men have been looking for ways to improve the conservation of food so that it would be available in times of low production or in places with difficult supplies.
The first initiative that led to the creation of canned food was taken by the Frenchman Nicolas Appert in 1809 in response to a call from the government of his country to bring canned food to the front during the government of Napoleon Bonaparte. The strategy proved a success and for that he received a prize of twelve thousand francs for publishing his ideas in a book. Initially, thick glass containers were used instead of cans.
The process used by Appert is similar to the current one, involving heating the preserve with containers closed with a cork stopper. At the time, its creator attributed conservation to the hermetic closure of containers, something contested years later by Louis Pasteur in 1846, who attributed conservation to the fact that the process eliminates the microorganisms identified by Anton van Leeuwenhoek.
Learning about the process, Peter Durand patented it in the United Kingdom in 1810. The following year he sold his patent to a company that replaced the glass containers and cork stoppers with tinned iron cans, starting with the use of metal cans.
Initially, the cans were not widely accepted by consumers because the high price of the can, the large offer of fresh food and the difficulty in opening the cans discouraged consumption. Interestingly, the can opener was only created in 1815 and until then the cans needed to be opened with a hammer and chisel.
Since then, the can production process has improved, making the production process easier and cheaper. They came to be widely used on ships during long voyages. Cans also played an important role at various times such as the First World War and the American Civil War in supplying troops. Conflicts spurred the development of better techniques that would later be used for civil purposes.
Portugal has a long tradition in the preparation of canned food. The first canning factories were installed in this country at the end of the 19th century. The Portuguese canning industry flourished in the following decades, throughout the 20th century. In the 1940s, Portugal was the largest exporter of canned food in the world, and the sector developed exponentially during World War II, as this industry would become a subsidiary of the war industry. Currently, Portugal continues to be a major producer and exporter of canned food, excelling in the excellent quality of its products.
Only in 1935 would drinks be sold in cans with the appearance of the first beer sold in this way.