Lady Sylvia Jay is to become chair of the export promotion body Food From Britain in 2006, Margaret Beckett, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs has announced.

The part time appointment runs from 1 January 2006, two days a week for three years until 31 December 2008 and attracts an annual salary of £50,730 (US$91,511).

FFB receives a Government grant through the Department Of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of £5.4m to maximise exports of food and drink produced in the United Kingdom. FFB has received an additional £3m from DEFRA for 2003/06 to support the quality regional food sector.

"I am delighted to welcome Sylvia Jay as chair designate of Food from Britain's council," Beckett said. "The range of experience she brings to the role, and her knowledge of working with government and the food industry, will help Food from Britain continue to deliver a quality service, and help us to promote success and excellence in British food."

Sylvia Jay takes over as chair from Gordon Summerfield, under whose expert guidance Food from Britain has developed into a successful and dynamic organisation focused on the promotion of exports of UK food and drink and the development of the quality regional food and drink sector, the department said.

"Sylvia Jay is an excellent appointment to the Chair of Food from Britain," said Gordon Summerfield, outgoing FFB chair. "Her knowledge of the food and drink industry will undoubtedly assist exporters in breaking through the £10bn barrier for the first time in nearly a decade."

"Britain produces some of the highest quality food in the world and I have long had a keen interest in publicising this at home and, particularly abroad," Sylvia Jay said. "I am looking forward to my new post and to building on the excellent work carried out by Gordon Summerfield."

Sylvia Jay was the director general of the Food and Drink Federation from January 2001 until August 2005. In August 2005 she was appointed Vice Chair of L'Oreal UK, on a part time basis.