Outspoken Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King will today tell consumers to stop worrying about food miles and eat African produce to help development on the continent.

King will tell students at the Royal Agricultural College that concerns over so-called food miles are “misplaced and ill-judged”, according to the Daily Telegraph.

He is expected to liken alarm over food miles to “another form of protectionism” that harms African farmers, in a speech that seems sure to put the supermarket boss on a collision course with environmentalists.

“We know that because of the size of our business we can make a real difference to people in places like Africa,” King will say. “That is why I am concerned about some suggestions that we should be focusing more on buying British, or at least European.

“Products produced locally do not always have a lower carbon footprint. It is nonsensical to suggest we should all be digging for victory.”