But there are many more types of Polish sweets, gingerbread aside. There are many companies on the market offering excellent products. A few examples of well-established companies are: E. Wedel, Wawel, Solidarnosc, Mieszko, Luzyckie Praliny, or Spomet.
E.Wedel is the market leader in the confectionery industry in Poland. The company’s portfolio includes a wide range of chocolates, marshmallow 'Ptasie Mleczko', chocolate boxes and bars, waffles, pralines, sesame seed candy and halvah. Wedel chocolate has been produced for nearly 160 years. In 1851 Karol Wedel founded his first factory at Miodowa Street in Warsaw. His specialties won the hearts of capital dwellers, who view them as rare delicacies.
The brand Wawel was created by combining excellent Polish and Swiss recipes and chocolate artistry perfected continuously over many years. Wawel’s traditions date back to the late 19th century, when a young apprentice, Adam Piasecki, decided to set up a confectionery shop in Krakow. Initially, five people were employed in his workshop located at Dluga Street. He was successful and the growing fame of Piasecki name encouraged him to start factory production in 1910. Piasecki chocolate products gained immense popularity and several of his original recipies are still used today. Currently, Wawel offers a variety of chocolate blocks and bars, pralines, filled chocolates, candies, and waffles.
The confectionery company Solidarnosc was founded on the 4th of June 1952. In the early sixties the flagship product of the company was introduced – 'Sliwka Naleczowska w czekoladzie' ('Chocolate covered prunes from Naleczow'). It is still produced and has remained popular among consumers ever since its launch. In 1994 the company launched another successful product; ‘Zloty Orzech’ (‘Golden Nut’) which is a chocolate praline with a whole hazelnut inside. This product has been honoured with the highest number of awards. Combining tradition with modern management, Solidarnosc has created a strong brand, enabling the company not only to survive but to be one of the leaders on a very competitive market. The most valuable company asset is the quality of its products, which is achieved through the use of modern production methods and the company’s own recipes. The products are offered in a large number of flavours and are sold in a colourful, esthetic packaging with an attractive design.
ZPC 'Mieszko' S.A. (Joint Venture Company) has been producing widely recognised and popular sweets ever since 1993. The company continues a fifty-year-old noble tradition, originating from older manufacturers: 'Slask' and 'Raciborzanka’. Mieszko has successfully implemented an integrated quality management system in compliance with the BVC for ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 22000:2005. It has also been granted OK Kosher, IFS, and BRC certificates. They offer candies, jelly beans, chewing gum, lollipops, pralines, chocolate boxes, wafers, and halvah.
Colian S.A. is a strong capital group of confectionery manufacturers operating under the brands Jutrzenka, Goplana, Kaliszanka and the firm Ziolopex, a manufacturer, exporter and importer of spices, tea, nuts, raisins and almonds. The combined experience, technologies and manufacturing potentials of the cooperating firms has enabled us to achieve the position of one of the largest confectionery manufacturers on the Polish market (12%) and gain a strong position on the spices market. Over 2,000 employees working in the factories in Bydgoszcz, Poznan, Kalisz and Wykroty produce approximately 250 types of confectionery products, spices, delicacies and tea every day. Products are available in EU countries but also in Central and Eastern Europe, in the United States, Canada and the Middle East.
Luzyckie Praliny Ltd. was created with Polish and German capital in 1996. They offer a wide range of chocolate and confectionery products. The company’s production programme includes several groups of confectionery such as exclusive chocolate, pralines, marzipan products, and pastries. Luzyckie Praliny Ltd. products are available in Poland and abroad. The company specialises in the production of buyer’s own-brand.
Another producer of delicious Polish sweets is Spomet, founded in 1990, with the aim of expanding the family tradition of baking cakes on a larger scale. A modern production site was built, which began baking cookies based on traditional recipes using natural ingredients only of the highest quality. The factory in Bielsko-Biala strives to meet high standards of quality and hygiene and it is confirmed by numerous certificates granted by international institutions such as the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Level A and IFS (International Food Standard) higher level. The cookies are produced in compliance with the Quality Management System ISO 9001 and HACCP Food Safety System (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points).
Polish alcohols are renowned the world over and they have been produced for centuries. For example, mead has been manufactured in Poland for more than a thousand years. It remains popular today and many types of mead are still produced. The origins of the liquor date back to the beginnings of the Polish state. In 966 the Spanish diplomat, merchant and traveller Ibrahim Ibn Jacob noted that 'in the country of Mieszko I, apart from food, meat, and rich soil there is plenty of honey and their wine and intoxicating drinks are called meads'.
Gallus Anonymus, who described Poland in his 'Chronicles' at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries, made numerous references to the production of mead.
Depending on the method of production, honey was divided into categories: 'poltorak', 'dwojniak', 'trojniak' and 'czworniak'. Each category refers to a different type of mead made with differing proportions of honey and water or juice and different aging times. This traditional division of mead has existed in Poland for centuries, and nowadays is still understood by mead aficionados.
Poland is regarded worldwide as the cradle of vodka production. This is made evident by historical and ethnographic research. The earliest documented information regarding vodka in Polish lands dates back to the 15th century, and the first record containing the word 'vodka' is found in the court records of the province of Sandomierz from 1405. Over the centuries, the production of vodka in Poland has become legendary and has been long-accepted as part of national tradition, history, literature, customs, and social life. What’s more, systematic improvement of production technology has resulted in true excellence of the drink.
Polish vodka is recognised and enjoyed in over 100 countries on all continents. Manufactured in a traditional way from selected cereals and potatoes Polish vodka has few if any peers. It has been endorsed by the countless medals, trophies and awards granted in all respected international competitions. Vodka connoisseurs all around the world have enjoyed the most famous Polish brands for generations. These include brands such as: 'Baczewski', 'Luksusowa', 'Zytnia', 'Belvedere', 'Wyborowa', 'Zubrowka', 'Sobieski' and many, many others. Foreign consumers often regard Polish vodka as one of the four Polish icons. It is generally accepted that Polish vodka is to the Poles what whiskey is to the Scots and the champagne or cognac is to the French.
Currently, Poland is the fourth largest vodka manufacturer in the world after Russia, the USA and the Ukraine.
Annual production of vodka in Poland amounts to about 260 million litres. Polish alcohols are highly reputed thanks to such producers as Wyborowa, Sobieski, Stock Poland, or Polmos Label Vodka 'Wratislavia' Akwawit – Brasco.
'Wyborowa' is one of the largest companies on the alcoholic drinks market in Poland. It owns the most famous Polish brand 'Wyborowa' vodka (the name may be translated as 'the chosen one'). 'Wyborowa' is exported to over 90 countries on 6 continents. The production of ‘Wyborowa’ began in 1823 in Poznan by a Jewish entrepreneur Hartwig Kantorowicz. The word 'elections' was used in the press article praising the quality of the vodka, and it was used as a name. In the 1950s and 1960s it was already well-known in most European countries; for example, it constituted more than 60% of the total quantity of vodka imported to the UK. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s the Poznan distillery was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was taken over by Pernod Ricard, a French company, which is now the second largest producer and distributor of spirits. The new owner decided not to introduce any changes to the product. Wyborowa vodka has participated in a variety of international alcohol competitions since 1962.
Distillery 'Sobieski' in Starogard Gdanski also has a long history. It was created in 1846, by the merchant from Gdansk, HA Winkelhausen who founded the Spirits, Liqueurs and Cognacs Manufacturer. The plant produces alcohols exclusively from very high quality natural raw materials, which enables the use of traditional recipes. The raw grain distillate – raw spirit – is purchased from the best local distilleries. The ‘Sobieski brand is a part of Belvedere Group. 'Sobieski' wins many competitions and is ranked amongst the best vodkas in the world, thanks to its achievement of the highest quality standards. Currently, it is available in 17 countries around the world.
'Sobieski' has received praise in the form of gold medals for its quality in Poland, France, Great Britain and the USA. It has regularly come ahead of world leaders such as Grey Goose, Ciroc, Absolut and Svedka. The biggest success of 'Sobieski' was last year in the United States; the owners of Madision Square Garden in New York, having served Absolut for the previous 10 years, replaced it with the ‘Sobieski’ vodka. The brand ambassador and a shareholder of Belvedere Group is the famous American actor Bruce Willis.
Stock Polska / Polmos Lublin has been a part of an international company Stock Spirits Group since 2007 and is one of the three largest producers of alcohol in Poland. Their flagship brand 'Zoladkowa Gorzka' vodka, is one of the best selling vodkas on the Polish market. Stock Poland / Polmos Lublin specialises in vodka and offers brands such as 'Zoladkowa gorzka', the whole Lublin group with different flavours: cranberry, cherry, honey, nuts, raspberry, and rowan tree vodka, Balsam Kresowy (liquor from eastern Poland), and eggnog with vanilla. There is also a rapidly growing portfolio of clear vodka, with its flagship 'Pure de Luxe', one of the best pure vodkas in Poland and premium vodka made from spelt.
Akwawit – Brasco and its vodka manufacturing arm Polmos 'Wratislavia' is one of the leading manufacturers of consumer spirits in Poland. A high degree of specialisation and quality has resulted in the popularity of the company’s spirits both at home and abroad. The tradition of Polmos began in 1762 and has lasted until today. 'Krakus'’, one of the most outstanding Polish national spirits brands together with other brands like Wratislavia, 'Herbowa Gorzka', 'Faust' or 'Ksiazeca' are still significant and popular brands of Polish vodka with a distinctive 'grainy' flavor. The drink is made from natural indigenous materials only, and it is prepared based on carefully maintained traditions and secret recipes of old masters. The product range is completed by aromatic liquors such as 'Special Bitter', 'Bona' and 'Pepkowka'.
Polish cold meats are widely recognised and appreciated, owing to a long tradition of production in our country. Interestingly, for many centuries cold meats were served in Poland only during the most important church holidays and weddings. For example, at Easter every table was filled with such cuts, with pork sausages being an absolute must. As many as 24 sausage recipes were in use in Polish cuisine of the Gentry in the eighteenth century. By the mid-twentieth century sausage was still considered festive food and a sign of prosperity by the villagers of Podlasie (south-east Poland). Housewives produced them at home using traditional methods, using simple and effective recipes that were passed from generation to generation. The basic raw material for the production of sausage was hand-chopped or ground pork, seasoned and put into natural intestines. Then they might be smoked in the chimneys or in simple smokehouses, in the smoke from wood burning, or in the case of juniper sausage in the smoke of the juniper tree. As time passed, sausage has become so well known that the various recipes were published in numerous culinary publications. A unique traditional Polish sausage is ‘Metka’ which can be spread on sliced bread. It is produced from raw, finely ground and well spiced pork. Metka due to its unusual flavor and lovely texture has always been regarded a delicacy, especially because only the best quality meat could be used for its production. It is still very popular among the inhabitants of Pomerania.
Among Polish cold meat manufacturers the most prominent are PMB, ZPM 'Henryk Kania', Drosed Group, or Sokolow Group.
PMB is one of the largest meat processing companies in Poland. Almost half a century old it was established in 1962. All this time it has been an excellent example of high quality production with traditional taste. Currently, PMB is one of the most widely recognised Polish brands, not only in Poland but is also in many European countries. PMB products have been granted dozens of awards at Polish and international quality contests. 8 years ago, PMB was the first meat processing company in Poland to obtain the ISO 9001 quality certificate. PMB has also successfully implemented the HACCP system.
ZPM 'Henryk Kania' was originally established in the centre of the Polish meat processing industry in the Pszczyna region at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. In 1897, a public abattoir was built. It existed until the mid-20th century, with buildings for food processing being added over time. ZPM 'Henryk Kania' was created on this very plot in existing premises. Now the company is a modern family business offering delicious products of the highest quality.
Drosed Group is one of the largest poultry processing companies in Poland and also in Europe. The company's main ingredient is chicken, which is used to prepare a wide range of products. The company offers such delicacies as 'Poledwiczanki', 'Rodzinna' Ham, 'Swojska' Beef, Chicken 'pork style' and 'Szlachecka' roulade.
Sokolow Group has a large production capacity which enables the daily production of about 1,200 tonnes of high quality food. Modern technologies, high quality raw materials and excellent recipes guarantee that the products offered by the company meet the highest quality and health standards. With a consistently implemented business and marketing strategy, Sokolow is now one of the most widely recognised brands on the Polish market. Export plays a vital role for the company’s existence and the brand is very much appreciated by foreign clients. On average, about 25 to 30% of total sales is directed at foreign markets, especially EC markets.
Cheese is one of the oldest and most widely consumed dairy products. It is not known exactly when and where the first cheese was produced. Most likely, it happened over 10,000 years ago when cattle, goats and sheep were first domesticated in Mesopotamia. One of the most famous traditional Polish cheeses is 'Oscypek'. It was first made by Wallachian shepherds who grazed their sheep in mountain meadows. It was introduced to Podhale, a Polish mountain region, along with the whole Wallachian culture, methods of grazing, hut construction methods, and milk processing recipes.
Mention of cheese production in the Podhale region and adjacent areas was first recorded in the fifteenth century. 'Oscypek' is shaped like a double cone with the widest cylindrical part in the middle. This part is traditionally decorated with convex and concave patterns.
The decorated part is divided into three parts; the main part in the middle and two lateral sections. The designs are made by the use of a special form ('oscypiorka 1') and are unique to every producer ('bacow 2'). When cut, ‘Oscypek’ has a large hole in the central part, which is remnant of the skewer around which the cheese was formed, with a lot of surrounding mesh.
Another popular local cheese is 'Bryndza kozia', a unique goat’s cheese produced in the Low Beskid area. It has been made there for five centuries. Interestingly, the method of production of 'Bryndza' has not changed since then, which helps to cultivate and popularise the tradition. The raw material is called bundz and it is made from the milk from the Carpathian goat breed, which are well suited to surviving in harsh climatic conditions. The distinctive taste of rich goat milk and dairy products is enhanced by the long hours the animals spend on the organically grown meadows and pastures.
Poland has a number of modern and well-managed milk and diary manufacturers. Some of the most distinctive are: Mlekpol, Mlekovita, Polmlek, Lactima, Spomlek, Lowicz, or Top Tomysl.
Mlekpol is unquestionably a leader in the Polish dairy industry with a 40% share of the market for UHT milk. It buys and processes 13% of raw material sourced in the country. Currently, there are a few well recognised Mlekpol brands on the market, such as 'Laciate', 'Milko' and 'Mazurski Smak'. The whole company constists of 12 production sites located in various parts of Poland: Grajewo, Kolno, Mragowo, Sejny, Zambrow, Augustow, Bydgoszcz, Sokolka Dabrowa Bialostocka, Radom, Zwolen, and Gorzow Wielkopolski. It cooperates with 14.5 thousand individual suppliers of milk and employs over 2 400 people.
In terms of Capital, Mlekovita is the largest Group in Poland by operating in the dairy industry. The Group is backed by 100% Polish capital. It has a long tradition and a well-established brand, not only in Poland but also on foreign markets. Mlekovita consists of plants dealing with the processing and distribution of dairy products. The main plant is located in Wysokie Mazowieckie and others in Bielsko Podlaskie, Morag, Zakopane, Lubawa, Dzialdowo, Pilica, and Baranow. The distribution warehouses in Chrzanow, Kluczbork, Kowalewo Pomorskie, Piaseczno, Wyszkow, Lodz, Bialystok, Jadowniki, Goreczyn and Wolsztyn are also an important part of the company. The company produces a wide range of branded products – currently over 300 – including: Dutch, Swiss, and English type hard cheeses, processed, and smoked cheese, salad and spreadable cheese, natural and flavoured cottage cheese and mozzarella. The company also offers UHT milk with various fat contents and capacity, pasteurized milk, UHT cream, condensed milk, flavoured milk, kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, cream and homogenized cream, butter and butter spreads, powdered and powdered whey. Mlekovita products are market leaders in the industry, for example brands like bottled ‘Polskie’ milk, 'Wypasione' milk, 'Favita' cheese, 'Sokol' cheese and extra butter 'Polskie' are widely consumed. The company views customer satisfaction as its greatest success. The high quality of the products offered has resulted in brand strength and customers’ trust, proven by many years as the market leader in dairy products in Poland as well as foreign markets.
The development strategy of Polmlek Group is based on the aim to become the country’s dairy industry market leader. The steady increase of production capacity, continuous improvement of product quality and strengthening of the Warmia brand are just a few elements of that strategy. Currently, Polmlek Group consists of Polmlek Ltd. in Lidzbark, Polmlek Olsztyn Ltd., Dairy Cooperative Polmlek Mackowy, Polmlek Mlawa Ltd., Polmlek Raciaz Ltd., Serwar Ltd., Starco Ltd. and Mleko Ltd. in Lipsko. These consolidations enabled more sufficient utilisation of the potential of the various plants and consequently neutralization of the weak points. New strategies to lower the cost of production, sales and marketing have also been implemented. Poland remains the main market for Polmlek, regardless of the current situation on global markets, and more than 65% of sales are made there. The main export product is still powdered milk.
Lactima Ltd. in Morag specialises in the production of processed cheese. It is the first company in Poland to produce sliced processed cheese using the latest technology. The company is steadily expanding its product range. Currently, Lactimia offers a variety of processed cheeses: sliced 130g, disc 140g, block 100g, sausage shaped 100g, and fat-protein product Cremetta 200g. All types of cheese are produced in many different flavours.
Dairy Cooperative Spomlek in Radzyn Podlaski is one of the largest and most modern dairy plants in Poland. The company makes an effort to create close relationships with their customers by constantly addressing their needs. This strategy resulted in the creation of new breakthrough products on the Polish market. Spomlek was the first in Poland to produce the very popular 'Radamer' cheese followed by 'Bursztyn' ('Amber'). These two products are popular with customers not only in Poland but also abroad. The latest offer is cheese called 'Rubin' ('Ruby') which has been steadily gaining consumer recognition since 2009 when it was first launched. Spomlek exports its products to almost all continents. The high quality of the products is endorsed by the many awards and medals they have been granted by national and international organisations and, moreover, by long-term cooperation with the most demanding customers around the world. The Cooperative’s overriding objective is to manufacture safe products that meet customer requirements and expectations, while remaining environmentally friendly and ensuring safe working conditions. Throughout the production process the company makes every effort to guarantee their loyal customers the best quality products with unique flavours. These efforts have been rewarded by quality certificates achieved by the company such as ISO 9001 and HACCP.
Spomlek consists of three production sites: Radzyn Podlaski, Parczew, and Mlynary.
Regional Dairy Cooperative in Lowicz is also one of the largest in Poland. In the last decade the plant has been expanded, modernized and re-equipped. Milk processing is carried out using the latest technology in brand new production halls that meet all sanitary requirements. The top export is the 'Parkadia' line including milk, cream and 'kaffesahne' (cofee creamer) in 1.000g and 500g and a variety of cheeses – 'Edam', 'Gouda', 'Em-En' sold in bulk euro-blocks (15kg).
Regional Dairy Cooperative Top Tomysl in Nowy Tomysl dates back to 1945. Since then, it has strived to produce exclusively top quality products; efforts rewarded by the attainment of the first ‘Q’ quality brand name in Poland to the Cooperative’s butter. Other medals, awards and honours followed. The Regional Dairy Cooperative in Nowy Tomysl is a modern factory, offering a wide range of dairy products such as cream, cottage cheese, flavoured cheese, natural and flavoured yogurt, butter, spreads, buttermilk, kefir and 'gzik'. Nevertheless, the flagship product sold in Poland and in Europe is Wielkopolski Ser Smazony ('Greater Poland Fried Cheese'). This unique cheese is still produced using traditional recipes.