Transporting food and drink over long distances uses less energy than domestic refrigeration and cooking, the UK food industry has claimed.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) also said consumers would not support any moves to restrict the year-round availability of seasonal fruits and vegetables, even though many imports must travel thousands of miles.
The federation, which represents food and drink manufacturers in the UK, yesterday published a "blueprint for sustainability" in advance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The document is designed to help its members adopt more sustainable business practices. It said the amount of energy used in transporting food and drink to shops from farms and factories was relatively small.
It claimed that the manufacture of food and drink accounted for more than 13 times as much energy, and domestic refrigeration and cooking used more than eight times as much.
In what could be seen as a retort to food purists who criticise "ready meals", the federation said it made environmental sense to do as much food preparation as possible in factories since industrial-scale cooking equipment was more energy efficient than the domestic equivalent.
Meanwhile another survey conducted by Opinion Leader Research confirms that British businesses remain indifferent or even hostile to environmental concerns.The survey of more than 100 chief executives, local government officials and academics has found that most business leaders would stick with suppliers even if they knew they had a negative environmental impact.
Although nearly eight in 10 felt that they should measure the environmental impact of their suppliers, 68 per cent would not change suppliers that were inflicting environmental damage, the report says.