Cautious change to Australia's 'national dish'

To millions of Australians who spread it on their toast every morning, Vegemite is virtually a national dish. So when the makers of the pungent brown paste decided to meddle with the ingredients, they exercised extreme caution.

Kraft Foods conducted a survey of more than 300,000 Australians before announcing a new version of the 86-year-old spread today. Company executives also trawled internet chatrooms frequented by Vegemite lovers in an effort to discern the precise nature of its appeal.

The new product is much like the original, but smoother. In a sign, perhaps, of more health-conscious times, consumers told Kraft “they wanted a Vegemite that doesn’t require combining with butter and one that’s easier to spread”, according to the company’s head of corporate affairs, Simon Talbot. While the revised recipe remains confidential, the extra ingredient is reportedly cream cheese.

Kraft – which is American, a fact some Australians find hard to swallow – claims the relaunched Vegemite is more versatile than the original, and “can be enjoyed at all times of day”. It even goes with the traditional Aussie barbecue, claims the company, which has created a marinade recipe for meat or fish that comprises fresh rosemary, honey, wholegrain mustard and Vegemite.

While the attraction of such dishes as Vegemite and Beer Marinated Steaks may be difficult for outsiders to fathom, Australians consume 22 million jars of the spread every year. Kraft is calling the latest version of the yeast extract paste “the new Vegemite experience”, but has yet to name it. Instead, it will ask consumers to come up with a name.

It was a similar competition that yielded the original name when Vegemite was invented in 1922 by a food technologist, Cyril Percy Callister, using waste yeast from a Melbourne brewery. The Fred Walker Cheese Company, which later went into partnership with Kraft Foods, took out newspaper advertisements, offering £50 for the best name for its “New Vegetable Food”.

The new, more spreadable product was devised after Kraft spent nine months tinkering with the ingredients. The company also analysed the results of its online survey, concluding, among other things, that most Australians apply Vegemite to their toast in light streaks, rather than slapping it on thickly, or dunking Vegemite soldiers into soft-boiled eggs.

Even once armed with such priceless information, Kraft executives proceeded with care. “With such a well loved brand, we wouldn’t create something using the Vegemite name unless we were absolutely sure Australians would love it,” said Mr Talbot.

Purists need not fear: the original version will continue to be sold beside the new product, which will be launched in supermarkets next month. According to the company, 70 per cent of Australian pantries contain a jar of Vegemite. However, the overseas market is still a challenge, with only 2 per cent of the dark brown paste sold outside Australia.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin