Mighty battle as AussieMite challenges ‘foreign’ Vegemite and Dick Smith’s OzEmite

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 6th September 2012

A challenge to the Australian icon Vegemite has been mounted, with the national supermarket launch of AussieMite—a 100% Australian owned yeast-based spread.

The non-GM, gluten-free premium spread launched nationally in Coles this week, pitting itself against Vegemite, the top-selling savoury spread, which is made by American-based Kraft and found in some 9 in 10 Australian households in a market worth AU$137M.

AussieMite’s success in gaining representation in the Big Two supermarkets has been a long time in the making.  AussieMite has been available through independents for almost 12 years and had its official media launch in June 2012, following a re-brand with leading UK agency B&B Studio Ltd and fine-tuning the ingredients late last year, adding vitamin B12. Then in July 2012, a month after AussieMite’s official launch, Dick Smith launched his own OzEmite in Woolworths, which, like AussieMite but unlike Vegemite, is a yeast spread that is gluten-free and contains some sugar.

AussieMite is disputing some of the statements attributed to Dick Smith  on ABC TV and A Current Affair about the AussieMite brand.   AussieMite creator Roger Ramsey says he and friend/fellow businessman Mike Thomas first came up with the name AussieMite in May 1998, well before Dick Smith publicly announced his own plans to create an Ozemite: “By the time Dick Smith announced he would bring out a range of foods and create an Ozemite, in July 1999, Mike and I were already well advanced with various Australian manufacturers. After some two years’ work and when the AussieMite trademark application by another company lapsed in October 2000, I quickly applied the Aussie Mite name–the first name Mike and I came up with and I had adopted for such a spread, and launched AussieMite in Foodlands stores, South Australia (our hometown) in 2001.”

Whatever gripes exist between the different local “Mites”, the Coles General Manager of Grocery, Richard Pearson, says about AussieMite: “Coles is delighted to add yet another Aussie-made product to our shelves. We sell more products carrying the Australian Made Australian Grown logo than any other brand in the country and we’re sure AussieMite will be another popular choice for customers.”

AussieMite Managing Director Elise Ramsey says: “AussieMite was born out of a desire to provide a 100% Australian owned yeast-based spread that is a delicious product made from premium ingredients and containing no chemical additives or preservatives. With the support of major retailers such as Coles—which together with Woolworths makes up 80% of the Australian retail market—that choice is now available to all Australians.

“This is a win-win story. As a small family-owned business, we are committed to keeping profits in Australia, using only the best local ingredients, where possible—comprising more than 85%—and with all the packaging including the jar, lid and label, made in Australia.

“This has not been an overnight success; AussieMite has been on shelf in Australia for some 12 years, re-branded, won a Gold Medal at the Packaging Council of Australia awards thanks to designers B&B Studio Ltd in the United Kingdom and the Fantastick Label Company in Melbourne and fine-tuned the recipe late last year. We have lead the way in displaying non-GM labelling, provide generous proportions of B complex—good for stress and pregnancy—are endorsed by Coeliac Australia as certified gluten-free for the increasing number of people with wheat intolerances and are Approved by the Vegetarian Society (UK),” Ms Ramsey said.

“AussieMite was developed out of a desire to provide a true Australian, delicious, quality yeast-based savoury spread. Spread the word and help us support local, small-scale, sustainable producers and provide a real alternative for Australians, and food lovers everywhere,” Ms Ramsey added.