One of Australia's biggest news sites
yesterday ran a story on Weet-Bix launching into China after the popular cereal appeared on a Chinese TV soap opera.
It appears the much-loved Kiwi breakfast cereal is equally treasured by the Aussies. Is Weet-Bix the next Kiwi favourite to be claimed as Australian?
According to Sanitarium websites the history of the company is a little grey.
In 1898 the company's first baker Edward Halsey began production in Melbourne, Australia, before relocating two years later to a bigger premise and then to Papanui in Christchurch where he began making the first batch of cereals.
The Sanitarium websites for both New Zealand and Australia offer slightly different accounts of the company's history.
The Australian website states "The Company's first baker, Edward Halsey, began preparing the very first Sanitarium products in 1898, he was driven to improving health in Australia. He rented a small bakery in Melbourne, and produced Australia's first batch of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal - Granola (made of wheat, oats, maize and rye) and Granose (the unsweetened forerunner to Weet-Bix)."
However, the description of history on the New Zealand website states "In December of 1900, Edward Halsey, a Seventh-day Adventist and baker trained at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, came to New Zealand to prepare healthy food for a small health home.
"He began making batches of Granola, New Zealand's first breakfast cereal, Caramel Cereals (a coffee substitute) and wholemeal bread in a humble wooden shed in the Christchurch suburb of Papanui. These products became known as Sanitarium Health Foods. Demand began to grow outside the health home as patients wished to continue eating these products even when they were well."
Weet-Bix international marketing manager Mark Roper said Sanitarium Australia and Sanitarium New Zealand were both locally owned entities.
"NZ & Australia are effectively sister companies. Both founded in 1898 in Melbourne and Christchurch respectively. We work closely together on export opportunities - e.g. into China some pack sizes are produced in Auckland, some in Australia," Roper said.
Next month Weet-Bix will be marketed in China under Sanitarium's international brand, Nutri-Brex, which would be sold through 1500 retailers.
The cereal, which has been available in Asia for eight years, made a cameo appearance on television drama Ode to Joy, sparking a boost in demand for the product.