"Bakeries" in Heidelberg - by Heather Smith
With bakeries on what seems like every corner, bread is a very important part
of German culture. Germany wide there are over twelve different names for a roll and
ninety-five percent of Germans enjoy or very much enjoy eating bread.1 The love of
bread is instilled in children from an early age, possibly influenced by the famous Kika
character “Bernd das Brot” (Bernd the bread). On average Germans eat eighty-five
kilograms of bread per year2 and in 2016 there were over 47 000 bakeries in
Germany.3 Bread is such a staple in many Germans diets, that they even have two
museums devoted to bread, in Ulm and Ebergötzen. Bread is not just a favourite food
or a part of culture, but also one of the most important economic factors in Germany,
with a total turnover of 14.29 billion euros and 273,400 employees.
Since there are many places to buy bread in Germany, the definition used for
this analysis was a place where bread is sold and the product is given to the customer
by a person. They also need to consider themselves a bakery, either on their sign or
on their website. This definition was made in order to exclude data from hospital and
university cafeterias, gas stations, grocery stores and Subway. The methods for this
analysis were qualitative and the data was collected from interviews with the personnel
and shop managers, customers, as well as information from the bakery’s website.
The area of analysis consisted of the following neighbourhoods of Heidelberg:
Eppelheim, Pfaffengrund, Wieblingen, Im Neuenheimer Feld, Handschuhsheim,
Neuenheim, Bergheim, Weststadt, Bahnstadt and Altstadt. These neighbourhoods
make up a total of around thirty square kilometres and contain sixty bakeries, creating
a density of two bakeries per square kilometre. With half of the bakeries being located
in very high traffic areas along the Hauptstraße, around Bismarkplatz, and in the train
station, the high concentration in these three spaces make the overall density in
Heidelberg high. An analysis was conducted at one third of the bakeries throughout
Heidelberg, giving a clear picture of the similarities and differences between the
According to numerous interviews of the bakery personnel throughout
Heidelberg, the most commonly bought food was the croissant and sweet cookies
came in at a close second (this might also be influenced by the time of the year when
this analysis took place, a month before Christmas). An exact price comparison was
not made, but on average, even in the low and high income areas, the products from
smaller bakeries were less expensive than those of the chain bakeries.
All twenty bakeries that were interviewed stated that they serve a wide variety
of customers, but in certain areas the clientele was not as mixed as expected. For
example, while the personnel at the Grimminger in Handschuhsheim stated the
customers were diverse, after a day of observation, the majority of the customers were
families with children and young-middle aged people. Throughout the day there were
only six individuals who looked over fifty and under twenty-five years old, with the
exception of children with their parents. Riegler in Handschuhsheim was similar, with
the majority of the customers being elderly. This can be explained by the older
demographic in these areas, with fewer students than in other parts of the city.
Another interesting result from this analysis was that bakeries that were located
close to large residential areas drew the majority of their customers from the people
who live in the area and planned specifically to go to the bakery. In comparison,
bakeries in high traffic areas, such as the train station and Bismarkplatz collected the
majority of their customers from people passing by who were hungry and looking for
something quick to eat. The only exception to this rule, where the customers came
from a distance to buy bread, is the whole wheat bakery Mahlzahn; the customers
there said they had no problem driving or walking up to half an hour to get their whole
One of the most interesting findings of this analysis is the contrast between the
bakeries in the very good and not very good locations (see fig. 1). When comparing
the good areas to live in, in Handschuhsheim and Neuenheim, and the simple-average
places to live in, in Pfaffengrund and Wieblingen, there are three main differences that
can be seen, namely: the number of bakeries, the product selection, and the
customers. With twelve bakeries, Handschuhsheim and Neuenheim have two times
as many bakeries as Pfaffengrund and Wieblingen do. Not only do they have more,
but they also have a wider variety of bakeries. There are cafes, small sized bakeries,
middle sized bakeries and whole wheat, organic bakeries. Another point which
differentiates the good and the simple neighbourhoods is the product selection in the
bakeries. Bakeries in Handschuhsheim and Neuenheim are on average larger than
those in Pfaffengrund and Wieblingen, allowing them to offer a greater selection of
products. Bakeries in these areas also likely have more customers per day which can
support such a large selection. Even bakeries belonging to the same company with a
shop in the nicer areas, do not offer as many products in Pfaffengrund and Wieblingen.
The final major difference between these two areas is the customers. As mentioned
before, all bakeries claimed to serve a mix of customers, but the customers in
Handschuhsheim and Neuenheim, where it is more expensive to live, looked like they
had more money than the customers in the other neighbourhoods. In Pfaffengrund
and Wieblingen I saw more people that looked like they had a lower income and more
people with an immigrant background. The bakeries in these areas also admitted to
speaking English more often than the bakeries in Handschuhsheim and Neuenheim.
These findings are significant because they show how the social practices and
communities influence the food that is offered to them. An example of this is the
placement of the whole wheat bakery. Products are more expensive there and the
bakery would likely not be profitable in areas such as Pfaffengrund where the rate and
length of unemployment is greater, the people are not as educated, and the
percentage of people living in subsidized housing is higher than in the other areas.6
The location in Handschuhsheim and Neuenheim allow the whole wheat bakery to thrive, as the people who live in those area earn more7 and can afford to eat organic
foods, which are often more expensive.
The final part of the analysis was comparing the websites of the bakeries. While
the majority of the bakeries websites were not aimed at a specific audience, as
bakeries attract all kinds of people, the marketing strategies used by the bigger
bakeries attempt to humanize the buying process by romanticising their history and
small start with black and white pictures or shots of the owners smiling as well as by
giving information on the social projects they are part of. Yormas uses a very personal
approach by trying to connect the customer and the company by including a section
where customers can send in videos or pictures of their products, or provide feedback
to a friendly looking woman. These strategies are efficient, because they give the
customer the feeling that the bakery is responsive to their feedback and needs, while
encouraging the customer to choose to buy bread at their bakery as opposed to the
This analysis has highlighted how bakeries have responded to the needs of the
people, by opening up shops in highly visited areas and residential zones with little
competition. They have adapted their products seasonally to what the people want
and employed marketing strategies to include the customer in the exchange of goods.
Germany’s tendency to move away from small privately owned businesses toward
middle and large sized chains has also affected the baker’s trade. Traditional bakeries
where the bread is produced on site have declined, with many bakeries now producing
dough in a factory and then shipping it to the bake shop each morning to be baked on
site. My analysis has shown that this has also happened to many of the bakeries in
Heidelberg, reflecting societies post industrial change in consumption.
"Deutsche Essen Im Schnitt 85 Kilo Brot Im Jahr." Spiegel Online. Spiegel Online GmbH 31
July 2001 http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/europa-rekord-deutsche-essen-imschnitt-
85-kilo-brot-im-jahr-a-147953.html. Accessed 15 November 2017.
"Statistiken Zum Bäckerhandwerk in Deutschland." Statista GmbH
https://de.statista.com/themen/1762/baeckereien/. Accessed 15 November 2017.
"Wirtschaftsfaktor Bäckerhandwerk." Zentralverband des Deutschen Bäckerhandwerks e. V
31 December 2016 https://www.baeckerhandwerk.de/baeckerhandwerk/zahlenfakten/.
Accessed 13 November 2017.
Gerner, Joachim et al. Bericht Zur Sozialen Lage in Heidelberg. edited by Amt für
Stadentwicklung und Statistik, Stadt Heidelberg.
Hörnle, Micha. "Jeder Stadtteil Hat "Gute" Und "Einfache" Lagen." Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung
GmbH 8 September 2017 https://www.rnz.de/nachrichten/heidelberg_artikel,-
_arid,301156.html. Accessed 13 November 2017.