The arrival of a 75,000 sq ft Whole Foods Market store in the centre of London early next year will be a significant event for the grocery market. Anyone who has visited its stores in the US cannot help but be excited. Attractive presentation of fresh foods with limited packaging; passion for service; stunning meat, fish, deli and patisserie counters; great bakeries, food to go and cafés; and a focus on sourcing quality, ­local, organic, wholesome and tasty food. And all this put together in a bright and spacious environment.

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.