Industry leaders have given a cautious welcome to the new Labour shadow cabinet announced this week but some have questioned how important a role it will play.

Appointments likely to be closely watched include Wakefield MP Mary Creagh who succeeds Hilary Benn as shadow Defra secretary in new Labour leader Ed Miliband's first shadow cabinet.

Her contributions have not always gone down well with the grocery industry. In 2005, she introduced the Children's Food Bill, which eventually outlawed carbonated drinks and sugary snacks from school vending machines.

However, one industry lobbyist said it was unlikely Creagh and her colleagues would wield much influence during Labour's years out of government.

"We do not see her having much influence at Defra," said the source. "We do not envisage that this will be a very influential shadow cabinet and we are concentrating on working closely with the coalition cabinet."

Also appointed to key roles were Southampton MP John Denham, who was made shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, and Wentworth MP John Healey, who will head up health for Labour.

Diane Abbott was given the non-cabinet role of shadow minister for public health, while influential figures for the industry in the Labour government who will continue to be key players include Benn, who becomes shadow leader of the house, and former public health minister Caroline Flint, who will head communities and local government.

"Some interesting people have been put in key jobs," said Food and Drink Federation communications director Julian Hunt. "It is also good to see some familiar faces in the shadow cabinet."

People would be judged on what they did and said, added James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS. "We particularly hope the shadow cabinet will listen to concerns facing small businesses, such as employment, planning and over-regulation."