The man who led the industry ‘war room’ during the pandemic has been given a new role to oversee key strategies at Defra, after a series of ministerial shake-ups and policy rowbacks.

Chris Tyas, chair of GS1 UK, served as chair of the Food Resilience Industry Forum (FRIF) and Defra’s director of food supply to co-ordinate the industry’s response to the crisis when it hit in 2020.

He now faces a series of new challenges at Defra, which has lurched from one crisis to the next over key government environmental pledges, including its embattled plans for a deposit return scheme and extended producer responsibility.

Tyas has been given a three-year term to help provide strategic and corporate leadership to the department under secretary of state Steve Barclay.

Tyas has become a key figure in the government’s relationship with the industry, already serving as co-chair of the National Food Data Transparency Partnership, which is drawing up plans for mandatory reporting of Scope 3 emissions as well as a new front-of-pack eco-labelling scheme.

Prior to his leadership of FRIF, Tyas had a 40-year career in the food industry, working for Mars and Nestlé in a variety of roles across procurement, manufacturing, HR, IT and logistics. He has spent the past five years as the senior vice president responsible for Nestlé’s global supply chain, based in Switzerland.

Sources said Tyas brought with him the respect of industry leaders and the first-hand knowledge that could be vital as Barclay sought to rebuild the department’s reputation.

Tyas said: “After four decades working in the food and agriculture sectors I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give something back.

“I hope to be able to use my experience I the sectors to contribute to the quality of decision making and especially implementation in the months and years to come.”