The volcanic ash cloud that grounded planes across Europe could prove to be a blessing for local food producers and traders.

Fears over depleted supplies of imports such as bananas and green beans helped heighten shopper awareness of air miles and the benefits of shopping locally, Anthony Davison, founder of the virtual farmers' market Big Barn, said.

"It should make shoppers question whether they should be buying such high carbon footprint produce," he said. "I would love to see supermarkets become more responsible by having sections which clearly display produce that is flown in, imported, national and local."

Nisa-Today's fresh category controller Colin Tunstall admitted that sourcing spring onions and blackcurrants from Mexico had been a big problem during the fly ban.

With hundreds of tonnes of flowers imported to the UK each week, local flower producers may also benefit from the disruption. Reading independent retailer Mark Allridge said he had seen escalated demand for British varieties of flowers such as hydrangeas, carnations, stocks and daffodils.

The six-day flight ban also provided a welcome sales boost for a number of forecourt retailers, who saw fuel volumes and associated sales soar as more people were forced to drive when they could not fly.