Amazon has thrown down the gauntlet to the UK’s major supermarkets with plans to expand its fresh food delivery service across the country.

From this week customers will be able to get groceries delivered to their homes for free in the London area with deliveries expanding across the rest of the UK later this year.

The company has begun automatically offering its Amazon Fresh service to Prime subscribers across 300 postcodes, with free two-hour food delivery slots on orders of more than £40.

A spokesman said the free Fresh scheme could be extended to the rest of the country by the end of the year.

Russell Jones, country manager at Amazon Fresh UK, denied the move was prompted by the rise in online food shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic although he said sales had been "particularly strong" following the lockdown.

He said the expansion in the service had been planned for some time before the pandemic.

He added: "Grocery delivery is one of the fastest growing businesses at Amazon and we think this will be one of the most-loved Prime benefits in the UK."