As Australian as you can get
Like many Australians, I was amazed to find that Vegemite was American owned – at the time by Kraft and the Phillip Morris Cigarette Company.
I decided it was time we had our own Aussie yeast spread so I came up with the name, OzEmite and announced the proposal on national television. Two weeks later I learned that Kraft had heard of my plans and registered the name “OzEmite” in an attempt to stop me from going ahead.
In a segment headed, “Kraft’s Dirty Tricks” on A Current Affair, journalist Mike Munro asked a Kraft executive, “why go out and deceptively register OzEmite?”. The executive responded, “we register a number of trademarks”. When asked by Mike Munro whether they had registered “Yankymite” or “Americanmite”, he received no answer.
This was just the beginning of our problems. Vegemite, invented by Australian Cyril Callister in the 1920s, was made from spent brewers’ yeast. When I contacted the major breweries to buy brewers’ yeast to make OzEmite, I was quickly told they all had sales contracts with Kraft.
Meanwhile, the German-owned Aldi introduced a Vegemite copy they called “Brekkymite”, which was made in Brazil. It was obvious to me there was no way we could compete with such a low-wage country.
Thanks to some brilliant Australian food technologists, we have found a way of producing OzEmite without using spent brewers’ yeast that in other countries is normally used as animal feed. We have used purpose-grown yeast based on corn so it’s gluten-free. Yes, the costs are higher, but quality and taste always cost a little more. Also, our OzEmite is not as thick as Vegemite as it is specially formulated to be more spreadable and less is required to experience the taste.
Most importantly, OzEmite is, I believe, closer to the original taste of Vegemite that I remember as a boy in the 1950s. It’s not widely known that Kraft changed the taste due to a shortage of one type of yeast but did not tell Australians of this.
Recently we conducted a taste test. Results showed that 70% of Aussies thought it was “different” but liked our OzEmite as much or more than Vegemite. Our OzEmite does not have an identical taste to the modern Vegemite. If you want that taste, stick to the American Vegemite or buy Aldi’s Brazilian Brekkymite. We have come up with a taste which, I believe, is more similar to the original Vegemite and appealing to the Australian palate.
If Dick Smith Foods gets just 20% of the market with OzEmite we will be delighted because OzEmite is Australian owned and the profits stay here. Recently the Wall Street Journal stated this about Kraft: “Vegemite’s maker is struggling to recruit young Australians to eat the thick, brown, salty spread their parents have always adored”. I don’t believe it’s the taste that’s the main problem. I believe it’s the fact that Aussies now know that Vegemite is not Aussie-owned and that takes away enthusiasm for the product.
Here is a coment from a member of the general public who wrote to us
I have been starting my day over the last 66 years by eating toast and Vegemite, plus cereal of course. I decided to try Ozemite after reading about it in Dick's
Forbidden foods. Bought a jar at Woolworths in Bowral (NSW). The consistency was different to Vegemite and on first tasting it, albeit by dipping a finger in, I was not impressed.
Decided to give it another go the next day and spread it on some
wholemeal toast. Wow! to say I'm now addicted would be an understatement. I'm really enjoying it and I'm glad that I persevered.
I try and buy Australian produced and made goods as much as possible and flatly refuse to buy frozen onions from the Netherlands and canned potatoes from Belgium as an example.
Bought the jam, bought the cereal, use to buy the peanut butter until it when out of stock but definitely source it again. But one thing is certain, I won't be going back to Vegemite. I hope that you have much success with all your Australian products and I for one, will continue to support them.
Click the "like" button on our facebook page, you can view photos, videos and see our latest status. Help spread the word and share with your friends.