Vegemite, the salty, brown spread beloved in Australia, is going home, purchased by an Australian dairy company from the maker of Oreos. Great news for Australians on the eve of Australia Day; January 26th.
Mondelez International Inc said was selling Vegemite and other Australian and New Zealand grocery products to Bega Cheese in a deal worth about US $345.3 million (A$460 million). The sale was welcomed by many Australians who complain that iconic Down Under brands, including Foster’s beer and Speedo swimwear, have been sold to foreign companies.
Vegemite is and Australian household staple. Those who haven’t been brought up on the spread, long marketed as a rich source of Vitamin B and ideal for healthy children, often find it a difficult taste to acquire. Past President Obama once said: “It’s horrible.’’ Australians abroad
commonly bemoan how difficult Vegemite is to find outside their country. The wonderful heritage and values that Vegemite represents and its importance to Australian culture makes its combination with Bega Cheese truly exciting,’’ Bega CEO Irvin said. “This is the best news I’ve heard for a long time,” Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “To bring Vegemite back into Australian hands after over 60 years of it being in American hands.”
Vegemite’s homecoming was applauded by Australians on social media too amid a climate of renewed vigour for Australian assets to be in local hands. A byproduct of brewing beer, Vegemite was introduced in the 1920s and is an Australian household staple. While the British favourite Marmite has a presence in the yeast-based spreads market in Australia, it is Vegemite that dominates it, with over 300,000 jars produced each day. During World War II the Armed Forces were buying Vegemite spread in bulk, due to the product’s nutritional value. The company had to ration the spread on a per capita basis across Australia in order to meet the demand.
For non-Australians, the mention of “a Vegemite sandwich’’ in the Australian band Men at Work’s 1983 hit song “Down Under” may be their only exposure to the stuff. Not so back home, where it can be found in 90% of Australian households. Australians overseas may find it hard to get their customary Vegemite supplies. It’s carried in the suitcases and backpacks of Australian travellers, as a small reminder, and a small taste, of home. An Australian Prime Minister once said more Australians know the lyrics of a Vegemite advertising jingle written in 1954, than the words to the Australian national anthem. “We’re Happy Little Vegemites As bright as bright can be We all enjoy our Vegemite For breakfast, lunch, and tea Our mummies say we’re growing stronger Every single week Because we love our Vegemite We all adore our Vegemite It puts a rose in every cheek”