The pandemic has shown the scale of the problem
For several years we’ve been running a craft breakfast room and bakery, “HANDELEK” in Kraków. Our menu was based on traditional recipes and good quality local products. We focused on sourdough bread, which we used to bake several types of bread, challah, buns, baguettes. The restaurant had a glass pane and customers could watch real artisanal bread being made in front of their eyes.
Our business grew rapidly, and breads were sold not only in our premises, but also through external stores to which we delivered the goods. However, the 2020 pandemic changed things a lot. There were fewer customers, people started buying less bread, and we were getting more and more returns from stores. We gave some unsold bread to a farmer for animal feed. However, the moment came when he couldn’t come to us either. The restrictions that affected the catering industry at that time also limited the possibility of using surplus bread in the kitchen. Despite our best efforts to bake the number of loaves that will actually sell, it was simply not possible to accurately calculate it. There were days when we had to dispose of even several dozen breads.
It was a very painful experience, because we always treated bread with great respect and undisguised esteem, knowing what role it plays in our culture. When baking, we used the best ingredients and put our whole heart into it. Every wasted loaf brought tears. We were devastated by the situation.
Then we realized that we aren’t the only ones who have a problem with unsold bread. Other bakeries and stores experienced the same problem.
Not only in Poland, but also in other countries.
“Such places have a soul, often only the owners work there, and they put their whole heart into the product. They take care of it, refuse adding raising substances. I know that our bakers, just like us, suffer while throwing away each loaf, because their work and all the good they wanted to give people with this bread, feeding them the best they can, goes to waste." - Katarzyna Młynarczyk
We were horrified by how much bread is wasted in this way, how many emissions are generated by the utilization of this food, and how huge amounts of water, raw materials and energy are irretrievably lost this way.
REBREAD mission - to save bread
We felt compelled to find a solution. Not only for us, but for everyone. We started looking for ideas.
Then we were inspired by an article about the Austrian bakery Bäckerei Therese Mölk, which has been processing surplus bread into craft alcohol in its own distillery since 2019. We decided to try it in Poland.
For six months, we painstakingly collected and dried the bread we had left over. We also helped other bakeries by collecting unsold raw material from them, and then we entrusted it to the professional hands of master distiller Grzegorz Pińczuk from the Podkarpackie Okowity Distillery. This is how KRAST was created - a kraft distillate from stale bread, which took its name from krast - dried and crumbled bread.
If bread can be turned into alcohol, it can certainly be made into other products. Thanks to this idea, valuable bread, instead of going to the garbage can, will remain in the production cycle as a full-fledged raw material.
Besides alcohol, other ideas began to appear: a base for cosmetics, soft drinks, biodegradable packaging and foils.
But how to introduce changes not only in Kraków, where we lived at that time, not only in Poland, but also in other countries?
Recipes and technologies need to be developed and shared so that they can be introduced in many places around the world at the same time. This is the only way to solve this burning global problem.
We decided to separate the REBREAD project from HANDELEK, which is entirely dedicated to saving unused bread.
Our REBREAD mission has begun!
Keep fingers crossed!
Kasia and Bartek, founders of REBREAD
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- Speciality Food Magazine: https://tiny.pl/w53s4