Environmental concerns about non-seasonal and airfreighted fruit and veg have been overplayed, the Fresh Produce Consortium has claimed. Responding to a Food Ethics Council report that said consumers should eat produce in season and grow their own veg, the FPC pointed out that fresh produce only accounted for 2.5% of UK greenhouse emissions.

The concept of buying ‘local’ ignored the fact total airfreighted fruit and veg only made up 0.2% of UK emissions, it said, adding that the debate threatened to undermine the campaign for healthier eating.

“It is laudable to encourage ‘grow your own’ as a healthy lifestyle choice, but this will not have any meaningful impact on the carbon footprint of fresh produce, especially when the cooking process can often account for most of the product’s carbon footprint,” added FPC chief executive Nigel Jenney.