The fact that an estimated 4 million people live in food poverty in an age of abundance is one of the grim ironies of our age. As this detailed study shows, it is a form of social exclusion which is directly linked to the daily choices many of us make when we enter a supermarket.
For perfectly rational and legitimate reasons, large food retailers target the 'cash rich, time poor' shopper with upmarket convenience food. The rise of the in-town supermarket designed to catch busy commuters on their way home is just the most recent development which has led to the long-term decline of independent food shops.
But low income shoppers, who are often both time and cash poor, find themselves squeezed out of the market so that balancing the weekly budget is a continual struggle. Even when they do manage to reach an edge-of-town supermarket without a car, people living in food poverty often feel excluded.
'Often, it's things you wouldn't buy: six bottles of champagne, seventh free - that's no good to me,' said one 29-year-old London woman. 'You won't find the things you need regularly on special offer.'
Through in-depth interviews conducted in people's home and during shopping trips, this report provides a compelling insight into the joyless reality of food poverty.
It also highlights the complexity of the causes of food poverty, and the absence of a 'joined up' approach from government. Key policy responses that are needed at local and national level include:
Tim Lang is professor of food policy at Thames Valley University and a government advisor on food poverty; Caroline Hitchman is health promotion advisor for Newham Primary Health Trust; Ian Christie is a researcher and consultant on sustainable development; Michelle Harrison is a research director at the Henley Centre.