Bega's Mondelēz purchase takes Vegemite back into Australian hands

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Bega's Mondelēz purchase takes Vegemite back into Australian hands
Vegemite will return to Australia after its American parent agreed to sell most of its regional grocery business, including the iconic yeast spread, to Bega Cheese.

The A$460m (US$346m) sale will allow Mondelēz to focus on the remainder of its portfolio in Australia and New Zealand, “and drive profitable growth by investing in its core snacks categories and power brands, including Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate and Oreo biscuits​,” it said in a statement.

Mondelēz gained control of Vegemite after it was spun out of American manufacturing giant Kraft, its longtime owner, in 2012. Alice Yu, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International said the deal was a winner for New South Wales-based Bega.

"The addition of the iconic Vegemite brand as well as a number of household Kraft products will build Bega Cheese’s reputation as an iconic Aussie company. As well as allowing Bega Cheese to diversify out of cheese to other products,​" she said.

"We're extremely proud of our history as the custodian of the brand for over 90 years, transforming it from its local roots into a global icon that's synonymous with Australia​," said Amanda Banfield, Mondelēz regional vice-president, said of Vegemite, which can be found in almost every Australian household.  

Bega Cheese's executive chairman, Barry Irvin, said the companies’ combined Australian heritage spanned over 200 years. 

It is a rare opportunity to acquire Vegemite​,” he said in a conference call. “Vegemite does not often change hands and, in fact, it hasn’t really changed hands for 90 years​.”

"We believe these iconic brands… are strong building blocks to enable Bega Cheese to become a great FMCG business.​”

Also included in the sale are Mondelēz-owned ZoOsh, Bonox and other products that use the Kraft brand under license, such as peanut butter, nut spreads, processed cheese slices, ambient cheese spread, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, Kraft Easy Mac and Kraft Mac & Cheese.  

Bega will receive a regional licence for the Dairylea brand. The Philadelphia cream cheese business is not included in the deal as it is a Mondelēz International Power Brand.

The Port Melbourne manufacturing site will transfer to Bega as part of this agreement and approximately 200 staff will be offered roles on comparable terms with Bega. The transaction is expected to close in the coming months.

Over 1.1bn jars of Vegemite have been manufactured since 1923.

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