Terry Jones, the new voice of food and drink manufacturers, has told The Grocer that in his new role he will focus on forging stronger relationships with what he described as the "more unusual" government departments.

The new director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation, who it was announced last week is replacing Julian Hunt, a former editor of The Grocer, at the end of March, said he also planned to help shape policy to allow members' businesses to thrive.

"The big thing is to build on the excellent work Hunt has done in the past five years," Jones said. "The coalition agenda feels bold and quite hectic and we want to avoid the unintended consequences of all the policymaking and attempt to join it up. We need to ensure we have the right relationships with some of the more unusual departments so when things like localism are discussed, we have covered off all the bases and there are no nasty surprises for manufacturers."

Flagging up industry efforts on labelling, reformulation and responsible marketing would be key to boosting recognition of the sector in the wider economy, he added. "This is the largest manufacturing sector, it's in really good shape and this is about getting all stakeholders to continue taking the industry seriously," he said.

Jones will join the FDF after a nine-year stint with the NFU where he is director of corporate affairs. He previously held roles at Welgro and Cargill, and will be responsible for FDF's media relations, the health and wellbeing agenda, IT and new media and public affairs.

"Terry joins us at an exciting time when the contribution of the food and drink industry to the UK's economic recovery is increasingly being recognised," said FDF director general Melanie Leech. "His skills and experience working within the food chain make him ideally suited to help FDF continue to champion the vital contribution of our sector."

Hunt is leaving to join Coca-Cola Enterprises GB as vice president for public affairs and communications.