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When Whole Foods opened its first international store in London, England, the Britons were surprisingly welcoming to the giant American, three-story, 80,000 square foot store.

The competitive food environment in England already features feathered pheasant and Double Gloucester cheese that can be bought at the Borough market, Devonshire cream and jams from Fortnum & Mason, fresh produce on the side of the road, curry at Marks & Spencer, and even gourmet offerings at the famous Harrods. Whole Foods hopes to draw all these customers to its own organic and gourmet offerings.

British customers, who are accustomed to paying higher prices for food and appreciate the value of quality products, tend to be advanced beyond American consumers with respect to the Green Revolution and conserving the environment. With Whole Foods’ strategy, based on locally and organically grown products, customers may support the retailer because it enables them to contribute to the environment in a positive way.

In the intense Britain retail landscape, many retailers follow the same tactics to be environmentally friendly and offer quality products. Marks & Spencer plans to achieve carbon neutrality and no waste added to landfills by 2012, an extremely aggressive effort for such a large retailer. The demand for fair trade, organic, and locally grown food definitely exists in the United Kingdom, but American retailers must prove themselves in a new country, where the food environment is very different than that in the United States.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you think Whole Foods ultimately will be accepted in the United Kingdom?

Kim Murphy, “Whole Foods Enters British Market,” Miami Herald, June 20, 2007.