My First Vegemite – new twist for Aussie icon

Food Flash, Nutrition News — By on February 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Love it or loathe it, Kraft Vegemite has been part of the Aussie breakfast, lunch and snack ritual for more than 85 years.  But with our changing food and health environment, it’s no great surprise to hear that there’s a new happy little Vegemite on the block.  Let’s take a look at the reformulation……can you guess the changes?

 

Nutrients going up

The new formulation has more vitamin B12 and B6, and added iron in a serve size of 2.5g or 1/2 of that specified for original Vegemite.

Nutritional Information
Servings per Package: 60
Serving size: 2.5g
Avg. Qty per serve Avg. qty per 100g
Energy 23kJ 932kJ
Protein Less than 1g 24.6g
Fat -Total
-Saturated
Less than 1g
Less than 1g
Less than 1g
Less than 1g
Carbohydrate
-Sugars
Less than 1g
Less than 1g
28.1g
4.7g
Sodium 43mg 1720mg
Thiamine (B1) 0.27mg 11mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.21mg 8.6mg
Niacin (B3) 1.25mg 50mg
Folate (B9) 50μg 2000μg
Vitamin B6 0.17mg 7mg
Vitamin B12 0.25μg 10μg
Iron 0.6mg 24mg

Nutrients going down

But the big (no-brainer) news is the 50% sodium reduction.  Which is no doubt partly influenced by active anti-salt campaigners AWASH, who point out the high salt load young children are now getting from their background diet of processed foods.  I’ll be interested to see if AWASH acknowledge this as a step in the right direction, especially the smaller serving size.  Rather than slather it on, the advice may be that “only a suggestion is needed” like this early Vegemite ad from one of my retro cook books.

Sticklers for tradition

Of course everyone will debate the marketing sophistication after the failed Kraft isnack 2.0, but the big question is the taste.  My opinion? It’s remarkably similar to the original without a noticeably big difference in saltiness, to my palate at least.  A clear message to the rest of the food industry that sodium reduction can be achieved. And there will no doubt be a number of (big kid) dietitians who make the switch, by all reports on Twitter today.

But there are some who are sticklers for tradition and a bit stuck in their ways, if this interview with Kochie and Kraft spokesperson Andra Gough below is anything to go by.  Great job  Andra…what a doozy.

So thanks for your patience on this one international readers, it’s not every day that an icon gets a makeover. Make sure you try Vegemite if you’re ever given the chance.  And now let’s open up for your reactions and comments below.  What do you think?

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  • Karen Kingham

    Really keen to try it Emma. But wonder what the pressure will be like from those like AWASH who push the less salt band wagon,for KRAFT to take bigger steps with their reformulation of the original to achieve a lower sodium content?

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  • Caitlin

    Hi Emma, yours is the first review I’ve seen of My First Vegemite, so thanks for posting it so soon.

    As you alluded to, here is salt-reduction lobby group AWASH’s response (Well, the same spokespeople from the George Institute, but perhaps not strictly under the AWASH name):

    “Unfortunately, cutting the sodium content of Vegemite by 50 per cent doesn’t cut it when it comes to feeding it to children, and parents should avoid feeding it to their kids. The new product still contains almost 15 times the levels of sodium that would be accepted to classify as a low salt product and as such it is a disgrace that it is being promoted as good for kids.”
    (http://www.theage.com.au/national/new-vegemite-raises-ire-of-health-experts-20110216-1awo1.html)

    It’s an expected reaction, and a respectable one, given that the sodium content of MFV remains remarkably high. However as we all know, Vegemite ain’t no peanut butter, and it is nearly impossible to over indulge in the stuff. Even if you lurve Vegemite more than life itself, chances are you still can’t tolerate lashing of it on your toast.

    So I think a reformulated Vegemite, if anything, is a positive and symbolic step forward for the food industry. Hopefully it will encourage them to take note that reformulating products for a healthier alternative is possible, welcomed, and most importantly of all – tasty!

  • Frances

    This is an interesting one. It’s great that the food industry is keen to make their products more healthy. And I haven’t tried the ‘new’ Vegemite. But as a bit of an admitted Vegemite purist, I have to say I’m not overly impressed by the concept. Most of us only put a tiny scrape of Vegemite on our toast.

    I guess let’s see if people buy it! If they do, and they find it a good way to reduce salt in their diets, then great. But how about reducing processed foods and takeaways that are eaten in bigger amounts first?

    In summary, my opinion is that there are much worse foods than the humble Vegemite. But I’ll try it and get back to you Emma!

  • Sarah Fitzmaurice

    I’m not sure either that given the small amount of Vegemite contained in a single serve, a lower-sodium version, even with the added goodies, is worth the bother. But in saying that, I would still buy the new version for my family if the price was comparable and the taste similar.

    I’m still reeling from David Koch’s interview though – he was not even listening to Andra! The arrogance of the man! I agree – Andra did a great job under very difficult circumstances.

  • Lisa Simpson

    We live in an age where we have a huge range of food options. Milk can be low fat, skim, full cream, fortified… Made from animal milk, rice, oats or soy… So, why all the fuss over another product that offers a modified version with different benefits? I say great move from Kraft for offering a lower sodium, higher vitamin variety… I look forward to the day when Vegemite offers a gluten free variety so it can put a ‘rose’ in my cheeks, too! ;)

  • Jayne Campbell

    I think this will be a fantastic pioneering move for the Australian food industry. I worry that comments from the George Institute will make consumers blasé about the changes and not even try it. I certainly hope it will have greater commercial success than iSnack to pave the way for a greater variety of products. I am curious about the lower iron content, however…

  • http://simonfoodfavourites.blogspot.com Simon Food Favourites

    i received a sample to try this week and will be posting my review soon. thanks for including the sunrise segment. did you notice it contains more sugar than the original Vegemite? :-)

  • http://www.scoopnutrition.com Emma Stirling

    Hi Simon
    Your review is fantastic with excellent photos. Jump over and take a look here readers: http://simonfoodfavourites.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-first-vegemite-taste-testing-50-per.html
    A note about the increased sugar content. As you raised this is higher than original: Sugars: Vegemite 2.2g vs My First Vegemite 4.7g (213%) per 100g. From a dietitians perspective this is not a great concern. 1 teaspoon of sugar is around 5g, so the product has increased by only 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per 100g. When you break this down to a serve size of 2.5g it provides less than 1g of sugar to a child’s diet. No biggy at all, and far better to focus on sodium from a public health perspective. Emma

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