It's a yeast extract spread in a yellow-capped jar with a bright red label, but that's largely where the resemblance ends. Lifehacker goes the taste test on ALDI's Vegemite clone, Brekkie Mite.
ALDI registered the trademark for the "Brekkie Mite" name back in 2003. But I've never noticed it on my previous excursions into ALDI, and indeed I've long harboured the belief that Vegemite was one of the prime examples of a product where ALDI was forced to sell the brand name item rather than its own store brands.
That remains at least partly true; ALDI does still sell Vegemite in its stores, which is not a concession it makes in many categories. So as soon as I saw Brekkie Mite mentioned on Mumbrella earlier this week as a "new in store" release, I knew I'd have to try it out for myself.
The packaging certainly bears a remarkable resemblance to Kraft's product. Indeed, the comparison photo below probably understates it, since the Vegemite jar is promoting a contest and is thus less monochromatic than usual. The points of similarity are nonetheless clear, though ALDI appears to have taken care to use a yellow plastic lid that's similar but not identical to that found on Vegemite. (ALDI uses the Bramwells store brand on other spreads and jams as well.)
When Allure publisher Danny saw the two jars sitting on my desk, he was gobsmacked and went off on an extended rant about deceptive packaging. There's no doubt this kind of approach could confuse consumers in a hurry, but there's also no doubt that it's very common in store brand products. This video which we highlighted earlier in the year makes that clear:
While the packaging might seem similar, the pricing is definitely different. A 235 gram jar of Brekkie Mite costs $2.69 in Aldi; the same size of Vegemite is $3.69. ALDI appears to be the only major supermarket selling a 235 gram jar, and any budget-minded ALDI shopper is likely to be tempted by the very visible saving on the store-brand product.
One point worth noting: while Vegemite is made in Australia (even if Kraft is American-owned), Brekkie Mite comes from, of all places, Brazil. Kraft reputedly has a lock on the Australian market for the brewing leftovers which are used to make Vegemite, so that's not so surprising.
Nutritionally, there's nothing separating the two rivals, with a tiny non-relevant difference in kilojoule count and nothing much else varying:
But the crucial detail is: what does it taste like? There's only way to find out, and so, without any consideration for the personal risk involved, I grabbed a jar and prepared myself some Brekkie Mite on toast for breakfast.
As soon as you start spreading it, you can tell that this isn't, in fact, Vegemite. It's more liquid for starters. The taste is also extremely salty, with less of the apparent yeast overtones that make Vegemite more interesting. It actually seems much more like Marmite than Vegemite, and I would not be entirely surprised to learn that the same product appears in ALDI's UK stores as some kind of Marmite clone.
Is it unpleasant to eat? No, not at all. Does it taste like Vegemite? No, not at all -- you would never mistake one for the other. I like the taste of Vegemite, and I'd be more than willing to spend the money on the branded product in this instance. I imagine there will still be cost-conscious shoppers happy to pay the lower price for the similar Brekkie Mite offering, but I think ALDI would be taking a risk to dump Vegemite altogether given the evident difference. The original is just too familiar a taste for most locals. (Plus I imagine it wouldn't work for making your own Big Macs.)
ALDI is actually very competitive in terms of actual Vegemite pricing right now. Its cost for the name brand product works out at $1.57 per 100 grams, which is cheaper than Woolworths or Coles until you go for the bulk 600 gram size, or Costco's monstrous 950 gram option. So my advice to occasional Vegemite users would be: buy it at ALDI by all means, but buy the real thing.