A glance at Gdańsk’s bakeries

Gdańsk, situated on the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, was already a rich and influential city in the Middle Ages. This makes it an attractive showcase for the Polish baked goods market – so here is a short tour through the Gdańsk bakeries.

With a population of approx. 460,000, the seaport of Gdańsk is Poland’s sixth largest town. Rarely considered in isolation, it is instead so closely bound up with the neighboring towns of Gdynia und Sopot that they are described as “the Tri-City”. This region’s population in 2012 was about 740,000.

According to information from Polish market experts, the following bakeries, each with its own sales chain, are among the most successful in the Tri-City:

  • Bagietka Bakery, Chojnice
  • Cymes Bakery, Pruszcz Gdański
  • Kiedrowscy Bakery, Kościerzyna
  • Pellowski Bakery, Gdańsk
  • Andrzej Szydłowski Bakery, Gdańsk
  • B&J Bakery, Jarzębińsky
  • Mielnik Bakery, Straszyn
  • Raszczyk Bakery, Pasłęk

In addition there are bakeries supplying the retail in Gdańsk, e.g. the NORT Bakery in Szymankowo (see the relevant article starting on p. 38 in this issue), Konkol in Karwia, the Klassa Bakery in Potęgowo and the Unipiek Bakery in Kwidzyn. The above-mentioned Kiedrowscy, Cymes and Pellowski bakeries with their own branches are also well-known as suppliers to the food retail.

There are also more than 100 smaller bakeries supplying bread to the city of Gdańsk and its surroundings. The annual bread consumption is currently estimated at less than 60 kg/person.

With regard to the baked goods market, Poland and thus also the city of Gdańsk is a typical Eastern European country, but one that had already become widely open to the West many years ago. Accordingly the prevailing prices of food, for example, are still as favorable as they are everywhere in Eastern Europe, and baked goods above all are very economical compared to the West. The main focus is still on white bread, for example the wheat mixed bread “chleb zwykły“, and bread rolls. At the same time the strong western influence of trends such as wholegrain/health and wellness has been clearly noticeable on the bread shelves over the past few decades. Thus about half the products on offer in all the bakeries in Gdańsk that were surveyed consist of white wheat mixed breads and the other half of dark rye mixed or wholegrain breads. A similar situation also applies to bread rolls, although the typical Kaiser roll is still very dominant here. Many bakeries have a selection of breads for special dietary groups. For example, diabetic and soya breads or breads with a high proportion of grains (specially labelled) were not uncommon among the branches visited. All the bakeries had a large selection of confectioneries or at least (very sweet) fine baked goods. The proportion of gateaux, sheet cakes, small yeast pastries etc. often outweighed the rest.

Eight bakeries or bakeries & confectioneries in the Tri-City are presented in more specific detail below:

The Piekarnia Bagietka (Bagietka Bakery) (www.bagietka.pl) has nearly 40 branches in northern Poland, three of them in the Tri-City. These are often located in the area in front of the checkouts, mostly at Netto. It was noticeable that a very large number of gateaux and cakes were displayed, whereas there were only two kinds of bread rolls and one white bread. Dark bread predominated, with approx. ten different varieties. Bread and bread rolls were only on the shelf on the back wall, but the confectioneries were located together with the snacks on the counter. The prices were in the normal to lower range, at PLN 3.10 (approx. EUR 0.84) for a 400 g sunflower loaf, PLN 2.20 (approx. EUR 0.60) for a 500 g seeded wheat loaf known as “chleb oliwski” (olive bread), PLN 0.51 (approx. EUR 0.14) for a split roll and PLN 1.55 (approx. EUR 0.42) for a jam-filled doughnut.

The Piekarnia Cukiernia Cymes bakery (www.cymes.com.pl) is sited in big chain stores. Three of the nine branches are in Tesco or Auchan, as is the bakery that was visited in the Auchan in Gdańsk-Migowo. Unfortunately it was not clear whether Cymes was located in Auchan’s checkout area in the shopping center or in the Auchan itself, because both small shops sold their products anonymously. Whereas the area in front of the checkouts sold exclusively sweet baked goods such as doughnuts, sweet fritters and cakes, the bakery in the Auchan itself carried nearly ten kinds of bread and bread rolls to be taken on a self-service basis. Two sales staff stood behind the self-service counter and organized the restocking from the multi-deck oven. As expected, it was possible for favorable prices to be offered, for example, the Kaiser rolls at PLN 0.17 (approx. EUR 0.05) were unbeatable.

Die Piekarnia Kiedrowscy (Kiedrowscy Bakery) (www.kiedrowscy.pl) is a bakery with six branches, two of them in Gdańsk. It also supplies the food retail and, for example, it advertises together with the discounters Netto and Biedronka and the Intermarché hypermarket on its home page. The location in Gdańsk-Migowo had a single bread shelf in a small room, arranged like a self-service shelf. However, the products were not taken by self-service: a shop assistant stood behind the shelf front, took out the required baked goods and checked them out. The shelf contained a large selection of about ten white, mixed and dark breads together with ten different kinds of bread roll. There was also a selection of sweet baked goods such as doughnuts, small yeast pastries, sweet fritters and cakes as well as snacks, e.g. pizzas, hot dogs and baguettes. The room was kept simple, but in return the bakery scored through its cheap prices. For example, a white farmhouse loaf cost PLN 0.95 (approx. EUR 0.26) for 500 g and was thus the cheapest wheat bread in all the eight bakeries that were visited. The multiple offers were also unbeatable: Ten Kaiser rolls were offered at PLN 1.99 (approx. EUR 0.54).

Die Piekarnia Cukernia Pellowski (www.pellowski.net) is a good example of a bakers/confectioners with a café. All of its ten locations are in the center of Gdańsk, one of these branches being in the expensive ulica Dluga pedestrian street. Pellowski invites you to linger: with six seating areas, an open self-service fridge with drinks and chilled canapés and baguettes on one side of the counter and a rotating tower with cakes and gateaux on the other side, the Gdańsk business has a modern, high-quality appearance. Consequently the baked goods were at the upper end of the price range. For example, the chleb oliwski (olive bread) cost PLN 2.70 (approx. EUR 0.73) and the doughnut at PLN 2.40 (approx. EUR 0.65) was the dearest of all the eight bakeries and almost as expensive as the bread. In return it was filled with quark, not with jam. At the same time the bakery seems to have a good reputation in Gdańsk, and was recommended more than once in response to enquiries.

Die Piekarnia Andrzej Szydlowski bakery (www.piekarnia.szydlowski.pl) has one of its twelve branches in a good location in Sopot’s pedestrianized zone. It is apparent both from the prices, which were in the upper range compared to the other bakeries, as well as from the furniture and equipment (better coffee machine, solid wood tables and stools), that this location at least has adapted itself very much to the health resort, which specializes in tourism.  It was also the only one of the bakeries visited that offered sandwiches with sausage, cheese and other toppings. However, the majority of the product range on offer consisted of sheet cakes, plaited yeast buns, doughnuts and muffins.

A couple of yards further along the Bohaterow Monte Cassino pedestrian street in Sopot is the upmarket Piekarnia Cukernia B&J Jarzębińsky bakery (www.jarzebinski.pl). This traditional bakery with more than 300 small sites, 76 of them in the Tri-City, specializes heavily in the manufacture of fine baked goods and pastries. Thus everything the heart desires was to be found here, from cookies, profiteroles and the usual cakes and gateaux to sweet and savory pasties. All the products were labelled with a price per kg and were weighed out. An interesting aspect was that here again an additional large selection of bread was displayed on the back shelf, with approx. eight kinds of dark bread including specialities such as a honey bread loaf weighing 400 g for PLN 3.00 (approx. EUR 0.81).

The branch of the Piekarnia Melnik bakery (www.mielnik.gda.pl) that was visited is one of 26 in Gdańsk and the surrounding area. Its first conspicuous feature was that it sat in a glass box, so one could see into the small room from three sides. Two simple tables and a coffee area behind the counter attempted to allow a slightly improvised on-the-spot product offering. In return, however, the bakery promoted a rather unusual bread, namely a 50/50 triangular loaf made with cream and sauerkraut.

Raszczyk Bakery, Pasłęk

The Piekarnia Raszczyk bakery (www.raszczyk.com.pl) shares its only branch in a small shop in Sopot with a butcher. This sharing was customary in Poland in the past, but now most of them are to be found (and even then rather seldom) in small towns and villages. In the Raszczyk building in Sopot customers were able to buy meats at the counter on the left-hand side of the elongated room, while on the right was a short front counter for sweet baked goods with a few loaves and bread rolls behind them. In spite of the small selection, 50% of the range of breads consisted of dark bread. According to the Internet site, Raszczyk’s own shops have modern decor with a pleasant café atmosphere, so it is possible that the shop in Sopot was not particularly representative of the family business.

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