Sunday, 24 August 2014

Shopping for food and dietary update

Competition is a wonderful thing. Now we have a Biedronka 'under the nose', a 12-minute stroll from home, and a Lidl a similar distance away, I cannot say that I have ever been so well provided with retail opportunities in my life. But despite the newcomers, I'm still true to Auchan Piaseczno - 15 minutes from home by bicycle, five by car. The pressure on Auchan is on, and Auchan is responding admirably.

At Biedronka yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see Lavazza Qualita d'Oro priced at under 19 złotys for 250g - around two less than Auchan was selling it for. Until I visited Auchan today - when I found that the French retailer has responded to the Portuguese retailer's challenge and dropped its price for the product to below 18 złotys.

Same story for apples. Biedronka price for a kilo of excellent Polish apples - 1.75zł. Auchan - a selection of four different varieties of Polish apples all for 1.45zł a kilo.Wherever I look, I can see that products at Auchan are more keenly priced. And there's far more variety. Biedronka has started selling cider - hurray! One type - a brand named Desire. But Auchan now has three bays, each a pallet wide, stacked with around 15 different ciders, domestic and imported. And Auchan has Browar Witnica's staggeringly good Lubuskie IPA, along with over 150 other beers. Lidl, on the other hand, has still to offer a cider among its beverages section, mainly brewed to be cheap and strong.

My recent visits to Lidl have failed to impress; there's now only a handful of things I pop into Lidl for. Its excellent tinned fish, Nixe brand - finest quality mackerel and good tuna at a good price. Unbleached, undyed toilet paper that harms neither your bottom nor the environment. Beefmaster steaks from Biernacki (Biedronka does these too) and superb kiełbasa polska surowa długodojrzewają from Balcerzak.

Biedronka counters with 15-month-old mature cheddar at 4zł less than mature Kerrygold 'cheddar' at Auchan, and a slightly broader range of food products than Lidl. And when it comes to fresh fruit and veg, Biedronka falls behind Auchan. I bought a basket of cherry tomatoes on the vine at Biedronka - they turned out to be Italian and taste-free, nowhere near as good as the organic cherry toms grown by PGO that are the mainstay of Auchan's offering.

Unless an Alma suddenly appears on Karczunkowska, my food shopping needs are well catered for; hugely better than back in 2002 when we moved to Jeziorki.

Meanwhile, a question many people have been asking since January - when will Real supermarkets be rebranded as Auchan? Last week PortalSpoż reported that the first Real to open an an Auchan did so in Opole. The rest will follow step by step as Auchan, who have taken over the Real chain from German retail groupMetro AG renegotiate rents with shopping mall operators. It will take a while before the Real in King Cross Ursynów becomes an Auchan. And just seven years ago, the same shop was a Géant, owned by French retail group Casino. Remember?

The Polish food retail scene is consolidating, but it's also moving upmarket. The growing number of small-format deli chains like Piccolo Italia or Kuchnie Świata is encouraging. Polish consumers (urban ones at least) are becoming more discerning and prepared to pay top prices for top products. The single European market is bearing fruit.

Meanwhile, I'm nearly at the end of my short, sharp post-holiday diet. Over the past two weeks, I have been eating only fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses. No bread, no potatoes, no rice, no pasta. No wheat products whatsoever. No dairy products whatsoever. No meat, no alcohol. It is hard to find variety in such a diet, but shopping at Auchan has allowed me to concoct interesting and tasty meals. I've just had for supper a large bowl of fresh prawns, fried with loads of cherry tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, provençal herbs, chilli peppers, garlic, chives and coriander. Wow. Wonderful stuff.

This has been a tough diet, though nowhere near a tough as the two-week diet that my colleague Marta and her husband Kamil recently underwent. Like mine, though without the fish, pulses, fried foods or coffee. I don't think I could cope with a diet that strict!

Back to normal on Wednesday. Plenty of excellent cheeses await (including a well-aged Pecorino Romano), and a bottle of Weston's Vintage Cider for the evening.

This time last year:
Photos from the Radom Air Show, part 1

This time two years ago:
Offloading PKP's risk at W-wa Jeziorki

This time four years ago:
Time to be stuffing yourself with fresh fruit

This time five years ago:
First notes of autumn in the air

This time seven years ago:
Large spider catches fly

1 comment:

Paddy said...

yes but Michael, how did you feel? Give us the report - added energy, concentration, better sleep? Is the pain worth it?!