Passion for food has been lacking in the UK retail space. Even retailers with the best credentials shy away from investing in better retail environments and persist with an excess of packaging for products.
True, the UK can justifiably claim to have the most efficient retailers in the world. They can substantiate the claim that prices have been lower as a result, while supply chain efficiencies have delivered safer food. There is much to be proud of in UK food retailing. But we do not have exciting food shops.
Overseas investors in the UK grocery market - Wal-Mart, Aldi, Lidl and Netto - have had a significant impact. They are driving efficiency and delivering value for money to the customer, keeping up the pressure on longstanding UK players. These businesses have brought much - but not the exciting food shopping environment we see in other countries.
I hope the drive for scale and efficiency has reached its limit in terms of what it can deliver to consumers and that the Whole Foods experiment in London will signal a new approach. Certainly, the prevailing mood is moving in its direction. The link between wellbeing and the food we eat is increasingly understood by consumers.
The broader issues around inter-dependencies in the food chain, local sourcing and the environmental impact of packaging and food miles are becoming increasingly relevant to consumers. Whole Foods is in a strong position to capitalise on these trends. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating in more ways than one.
One store may not seem very important but it could signal a change in direction in the next few years. Competitors will adapt if Whole Foods achieves the impact I expect. As a result, we can anticipate greater choice and variety and more exciting food shops compared with the bland homogeneity of today.