A gluten-free version of symbolic Australian spread Vegemite has just been launched by brand owner Bega after what it says was ‘thousands’ of requests.
According to the Vegemite website, gluten-free version of the spread comes from gluten-free yeast, a formulation which took two years of innovation to achieve.
“[The] carefully selected yeast used to create Gluten Free Vegemite has only been fed food sources that do not contain any traces of gluten,” said the company.
“[We formulated this product] seeing as 1 in 4 consumers are avoiding gluten in their diets. […] It painted the picture for us that Vegemite was until now unable to be enjoyed by a large percentage of Australians.”
Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Vegemite marketing manager Matt Gray said that the yeast used in the gluten-free version was bakers yeast grown on molasses, as opposed to the brewers yeast grown on barley and wheat in the original version.
“We needed to nail the Vegemite taste because we [...] wanted to make sure that those people who once did eat Vegemite when they tried gluten free Vegemite it was still the same taste,” he added.
"With Bega bringing Vegemite back into Australian hands they understand the special place Vegemite holds.
“It's a 95-year-old brand and we need to make sure it continues to be relevant with the changing dynamics in Australia.”
The company took to Instagram to declare that the new spread was not only gluten-free, but also tastes the same as the original, is FODMAP-friendly (suitable for those with irritable bowel syndrome and several other dietary intolerances) and endorsed by Coeliac Australia.
Coeliac Australia CEO Michelle Laforest lauded the new product, telling The New Daily that this would be especially beneficial for children, because: “For children, not being able to eat what their friends consume can create a real sense of loneliness and isolation.”
The gluten-free Vegemite is currently available in some outlets of supermarket chain IGA Supermarkets, and will be rolled out nationally this month. It is priced slightly higher (A$4.89) than the reduced-salt version of the original (A$4.70) for 235g, as well as compared to the standard version (A$4 for 220g).
Vegemite had its initial launch in Australia in 1922, and was later acquired by Kraft Foods, then Australian dairy company Bega last year.