New Vegemite 'tastes like Marmite'

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:39 07/04/2011
Hamish Coleman-Ross

Pupils at Greenacres School in Tawa taste-test Vegemite's newest product aimed at a younger consumer. By Hamish Coleman-Ross.

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Vegemite's new child-friendly breakfast spread may have just one problem - kids say it tastes more like the brand's number-one Kiwi rival, Marmite.

The spread, named "My First Vegemite", was launched in New Zealand this week as a lower sodium alternative to the traditional yeast-based treat.

Full of extra vitamins and added iron, My First Vegemite is "the perfect start to the day for growing bodies," Vegemite owner Cadbury says.

The new spread also has a milder taste, designed to suit younger palates.

And while Cadbury assured consumers the spread would maintain the Vegemite taste New Zealanders know and love, a Stuff test on some very willing participants proved that might not be the case.

Most of the children from Room 5 at Greenacres School in Tawa, Wellington, thought the spread tasted like another old favourite, Marmite.

The two yeast extract based spreads have had a long history of rivalry with Vegemite originating in Australia and Marmite - first produced in Britain - manufactured in New Zealand since 1919.

"Like Marmite just with a little bit of flavouring," said Travis, 6.

"It tasted just like the one, like Marmite," said Alyssa, also 6.

However, they weren't complaining about the taste - all except one gobbled up their slice of bread, with some asking for more.

"It was incredible. I like it better than other Vegemite," said Izzy, 6.

"Just delicious and yum," said Erana, 7.

Whatever the children's reactions, nutritionists say the lower-sodium spread can only be a good thing.

Otago University Associate Professor of human nutrition Winsome Parnell said "good on the manufacturers".

"Toddlers and small children in NZ will continue to use vegemite as a spread - it is a traditional food. So a version with half the sodium level is to be applauded."

The new Vegemite contains  43 milligrams of sodium per half-teaspoon serve. Grown up Vegemite has 173 milligrams of sodium in every teaspoon serve.

Vegemite last product release was in 2009, with the iSnack 2.0, which eventually changed its name to Cheesybite.

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