SYDNEY: Mondelez International is selling off a range of Kraft-owned food brands in Australia, including the iconic Vegemite spread, in order to focus on its snacks and confectionery brands.

The buyer is local dairy business Bega Cheese, which also acquires salad dressing and mayonnaise brand Zoosh, beef cooking stock Bonox and the licence for Dairylea and KraftEasy Mac & Cheese, Ad News reported.

For a quintessentially Australian brand, Vegemite has spent much of its existence under US ownership, first being acquired by Kraft Foods in 1935 before ownership passed to Mondelez in 2012 when Kraft was restructured.

"The wonderful heritage and values that Vegemite represents and its importance to Australian culture makes its combination with Bega Cheese truly exciting," said Barry Irvin, executive chairman of Bega Cheese.

Kraft famously extended the Vegemite brand several years ago by adding cheese to the mix, but its initial choice of product name, iSnack 2.0, attracted widespread derision. Simon Talbot, who oversaw the innovation at Kraft recalled: "We fronted one of the branded world's first cyber lynchings" before the product was renamed Vegemite Cheesybite.

Around the same time, Vegemite acted to turn around a steep decline in brand penetration, brought about by an increase in the number of Australian households without children and the loss of the brand's place on the breakfast table.

But even if they didn't eat it any more, adults retained a deep affection for the brand and the How do you like your Vegemite? campaign encouraged them to rethink the ways in which they might use it and share those with other fans.

At the time, the 'How Do You Like Your Vegemite' site was among the most visited brand websites in Australia.

Data sourced from Ad News; additional content by Warc staff