A careful balance must be struck between health, quality and price, to stop food from becoming a “class issue,” a new consumer-led report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) claims.

Shoppers responding to the FSA’s ‘Our Food Future’ report said they were worried that access to healthy and nutritious food could “become a luxury” as pricing prompts people to buy cheaper, processed food - a move which could lead to the creation of a “two-tier” food society in the future.

Consumers “were eager for intervention to help ensure that all consumers can make healthy choices and have access to whole, affordable, nutritious foods – even if they don’t always choose to have them,” the report said.

It also highlighted widespread concerns about the growing trend towards convenience foods and eating on the go.

The rise of ‘quick cook’ convenience foods, food to go and online grocery shopping ’could come at a cost – disconnecting consumers from the foods they eat, and each other, it said.

However, while consumers expressed worries that convenience foods could decrease the social and cultural importance of sharing meals, nor did they want a ‘return to the old days’ which would involve a sacrifice of convenience.

Despite their fears, convenience was still seen to offer clear benefits – enabling modern, busy lifestyles and reducing the time spent on buying, preparing and eating food, meaning that another careful balance had to be struck, the report added.