When we first started trying to think what to say this morning, we stared gloomily at the programme and the name of your Federation. The Food Manufacturers' Federation.
And it occurred to us that there is, in fact, in the whole world, only one true Food Manufacturer. And though He may well be here, He is not – as far as we know – planning to speak.
We make this point not simply as a marginally offensive joke: but as a salutary reminder, certainly to ourselves, that food in reality is not made. Food, wonderfully and mysteriously, grows: in animals and fruit and vegetables and cereals.
And what man does, for a number of complex and different reasons, is to take that mysteriously produced raw material and modify it. We cook, process, blend, flavour, shape, meter, name, package and distribute it. So, with the greatest possible diffidence, might we suggest that your association in fact be thought of as the Food Modifiers' Federation. This timidly creative suggestion at least has the merit of requiring no change to the initials on your programme and letter-heading.