Australia’s Vegemite gets 1st makeover in 85 years

Vegemite: a new, creamier variation of the product would be on store shelves July 5, 2009 alongside the original, which has been a staple in pantries Down Under almost since its invention here in 1922.

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The iconic Australian food spread Vegemite is getting a makeover.

Kraft Foods Australia announced Sunday that a creamier variation of the product would be on store shelves July 5 alongside the original, which has been a staple in pantries Down Under almost since its invention here in 1922.

“With such a well-loved, iconic brand, we wouldn’t create something using the Vegemite name unless we were absolutely sure Australians would love it,” said Simon Talbot, Kraft Australia’s head of corporate affairs.

Vegemite — a salty, slightly bitter spread made from brewer’s yeast — is such a part of Australian lifestyle that it even made mention as a sandwich in the 1980s hit song “Down Under” by Men at Work. Australians spread it on toast or crackers, top it with tomatoes or avocados, use it to flavor soups and gravies, pack a jar when traveling and write home for more when living abroad.

Kraft decided to make a new product after conducting a census of 300,000 Australians and New Zealanders to find out how they use Vegemite, Talbot told The Associated Press on Monday.

“We received a wish list of what Australians would like and decided to create a new version to complement the original,” he said.

The end result is a Vegemite mixed with cream cheese for a smoother, more spreadable consistency. Talbot said the new product was given to 600 homes for testing and came back with overwhelmingly positive results.

“It’s a milder version, more suited to dipping celery or carrots, easy to spread,” Talbot said. “It’s a different flavor profile but still distinctly Vegemite.”

It’s not the first time Kraft Australia has blended cheese and Vegemite. Noticing that some consumers made sandwiches of Vegemite and a slice of cheese, the company briefly introduced Vegemite singles — a flavored cheese — in 1991.

Vegemite was concocted 87 years ago by Australian chemist Cyril Callister for the Fred Walker Cheese Company in Melbourne, which wanted a Vitamin B-rich spread that could compete with Britain’s popular Marmite.

Walker later partnered with American businessman James L. Kraft, and the company ultimately became Kraft Foods Australia, a division of the international U.S.-based company.

Kraft touts the still-unnamed product as “the new Vegemite experience.”

Just like the original, which was named in a national poll in 1923, the new version will also be named by a public contest. Jars that go on sale next month will carry the label: “Name Me.”

The contest is open-ended as Kraft selects the best name for the Vegemite partner.

“It’s in the hands of the Australian and New Zealand people,” Talbot said.

(Source: By TANALEE SMITH, Associated Press Writer Tanalee Smith, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jun 15.)

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The review "Australia’s Vegemite gets 1st makeover in 85 years" was last updated on 04/05/2015.

  • Lynette Butterworth

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    Where I am not opposed to the addition of new products, I am seriously upset regarding the changes to the original vegemite.

    The last jar I purchased was more like promite than vegemite. If I wanted Promite I would have purchased that. I eat vegemite on toast every morning for breakfast, put it in soups, stews etc and at least two nights a week my evening meal is Vevemite on toast. I am willing to pay for the genuine product ( lets face it ,it is not inexpensive) but feel ‘ripped off’ when I receive a substandard product.
    Please don’t mess with Vegemite. The fact that it has been a fovourite spread for many years is because it is good. Weaken the product and sales will drop.

    Thank you
    Lynette Butterworth

  • Adriana Harvey