Reflection is good sometimes, and a republished story that first appeared in 1900 has certainly been attracting attention here in the UK.

Earlier in January, the BBC featured predictions made by a U.S. civil engineer in 1900 about how the world would be in 2000.

“What may happen in the next hundred years” by John Elfreth Watkins Jr., first appeared in the Ladies Home Journal, and some of the predictions were remarkably accurate. These included digital photography, computers, mobile phones, television and tanks. His comment on photography was:

“Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later…”

There are certain aspects to the above that are all a little worrying!

Food and agriculture 

Watkins' predictions also extended to agriculture and food. He wrote: “Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today.”

The proliferation of ready meals and processed meat in supermarkets would suggest that he was right. He did not, however, predict the various advances in packaging that have taken place over the last 100 years, and rather imagined that meals would be delivered on plates which would be returned to the cooking establishments to be washed. But for any food company out there with the necessary infrastructure and a dedication to the environment, this could be a prediction that may still come true!

Watkins also said: “Vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants to grow larger and faster, and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of colored light will hasten the growth of many plants.”

Modern agriculture would be lost now without the use of electricity, and controlled light is important not only in plant production but in poultry production, too.

Anniversary 

And talking of poultry production in particular, 2012 sees Poultry International celebrate its 50th anniversary. We’ve been following developments and making the odd prediction too, and later in the year, we will be looking in more detail at how the industry has developed since the magazine was first launched.

We’ve coincided with Watkins in looking at ready meals, photographic measurement, mobile phone technology and computers, although, as far as I know, tanks have not featured in Poultry International!

There has certainly been change, be it in genetics, management, consumption levels or international trade. Back in 1963, the value of world trade in poultry meat stood at GBP577 million!

And Poultry International has had its fair share of accurate predictions, too. Twenty-five years ago, when the global industry was a fraction of what it is today, we predicted that producers would have to reduce their dependence on traditional feeding stuffs, that there would be significant consolidation amongst breeders, and that there would be much more control over the environment along all stages of production from hatching through to slaughter. But more of this later in the year.