I've been talking to people at Kraft USA about why Vegemite isn't currently coming into the US. I've managed to put together some facts and history on this...
- In the original pre-1999 formulation of Vegemite, folic acid levels were compliant with FDA regulations. Vegemite was still required to comply with US labeling regulations to be imported into the US.
- From 1999, the Australian formulation of Vegemite changed increasing the level of folic acid above FDA permitted levels
- When the formulation changed and it could no longer be imported directly from Australia, Kraft US did a dedicated run of Vegemite in small jars (4 or 6 oz) using the older, and FDA compliant folic acid formulation and added FDA compliant labeling.
- In Kraft parlance the “volume and velocity” of the Vegemite business in the US was not sufficient to sustain a dedicated product run of this type
- There is a “gray market” for Vegemite in the US and any Vegemite that doesn’t have a US style label is considered “grey market”
- There is no ban on bringing in Vegemite for personal consumption
- The amount of Vegemite that can be imported for “personal consumption” is not clearly defined
- Kraft USA has decision making power over what is imported by Kraft Canada
- There is currently no legal distributor in Canada for Vegemite
- Canada has introduced new labeling requirements that Vegemite sourced from Kraft Australia does not comply with
- Kraft Australia was recently asked if they would be willing to produce a run of Vegemite with labeling for the Canadian market - they declined
The questions that are still outstanding are:
- When did Kraft USA cease importing Vegemite into the USA?
- How much Vegemite can an individual bring into the USA for personal consumption?
- How much Vegemite can an individual bring into Canada for personal consumption?
- How does Kraft recommend its customers in the USA and Canada purchase Vegemite?
- Is it legal for US and Canadian residents to buy Vegemite over the internet from companies outside their respective countries?
- What are Kraft Australia, Kraft USA and Kraft Canada jointly doing to allow lifelong Vegemite customers to legally purchase Vegemite in the USA and Canada?
- Would Kraft Australia be willing to export Vegemite to a Canadian distributor if that distributor took responsibility for the additional labeling requirements?
With Kraft in different countries all apparently blaming each other for the situation, Australians living in the US and Canada are out of luck. I'll post answers to the questions above as I get them.