Early experiments with meat preservation brought an end to the life of English philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon, who first said: “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." 

The saying is applicable to most industries and walks of life, but it is curious to note that Bacon died of pneumonia caught while experimenting with preserving an eviscerated chicken with snow.

A man ahead of his time, and I wonder what he would think if he could see all the chilled and frozen chickens that make their way around the world and stock supermarket shelves in one form or another today.

In the late nineteenth century it was said that Bacon’s “influence on the modern world is so great that every man who rides a train, sends a telegram, follows a steam plough, sits in an easy chair, crosses the Channel or the Atlantic, eats a good dinner, enjoys a beautiful garden, or undergoes a painless operation, owes him something.” Few of us still follow steam ploughs, and telegrams have all but disappeared, but we all still like to enjoy a good dinner, and Bacon’s words are as applicable now as they were in his lifetime.

Forethought and imagination

Continuing with one foot in the nineteenth century, remember that this is when an international network developed to export preserved beef. Chicken had to wait some time, but it has now eclipsed beef in global trade volumes.

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, imported beef was a regular sight in many a European shop, and who would have thought back then that imported chicken in some form or another would be filling ever more space. Somebody, however, at some time, showed a little forward thinking and imagination so a whole new industry came into being.

It is not, of course, simply in trade that opportunities have been created by the poultry industry. It is true that some of the first supermarket ready meals were chicken-based, but the variety of presentations of chicken now available and the ready-made dishes in which it is included must have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Somebody, somewhere, showed a little imagination, dared to dream and took action, and various new categories came into being.

Our lives are constantly changing. What we do, what we eat and what we use are continually evolving. Take, for example, tablet computers seen everywhere these days — perhaps they are the new telegrams! Most of us like to communicate and, in both the case of the telegram, revolutionary in its day, and the tablet, opportunities were created and lives transformed. And incidentally, Bacon dreamed up the precursor to Morse Code and binary code, without which telegrams and tablets would not have been invented.

Making change

The poultry industry has certainly been very good at making more opportunities than it finds, and this is something that needs to continue. In some parts of the world, chicken paws were once simply deemed good enough for pet food — not any more. They now make up a valuable commodity in their own right.

I rarely use the words innovation and innovate, as they seems to apply to anything these days that a company wants to promote, and have become so over used without thought as to be almost meaningless. I would much rather go with Bacon’s saying that a wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

Let’s get making!