Supermarkets are being urged to include food miles on all labels, including a mix of ingredients in ready meals, so that shoppers can buy the greenest products, according to researchers.

Researchers from Essex University and City University are urging people to buy as much local food as possible and aim to travel to the shops by foot or bus wherever they can in order to limit the road mileage attached to food.

According to their data, only 100,000 tonnes of food is flown in to Britain but almost 500 billion tonnes is carried by road across the country. Every tonne of food travels an average of 59 miles by road whereas 20 years ago it was 46 miles.

The report, published in the journal Food Policy, calculated that the hidden cost of food production and distribution adds 12% to prices.