Kraft is a brand that has graced the shelves of Australasian grocery stores for more than 90 years. Two thirds of our homes include one or more of their products.

Yet, despite it being one of the world's biggest brands - worth A$12 billion ($12.8b) globally according to Forbes - by the end of the year it will have disappeared from Australia and New Zealand altogether.

The brand arrived in Australia in 1926, and the name "Kraft" has adorned everything from Mac & Cheese to Vegemite. But despite it being worth more than Nestle or Kelloggs, it's now headed to the brand bin.

The products themselves will remain, but the Kraft name is being sidelined. This month, Kraft Singles was replaced by UK brand "Dairylea Slices".


Soon the familiar Kraft logo will no longer even adorn jars of peanut butter. Instead, get ready for "The Good Nut" spreads.

A branding expert says changing brands is fraught with difficulty and could lead consumers to think they are buying look-a-like private label products.

"The Kraft name symbolises familiarity. When shoppers go to the chiller it has that recognition," said University of Adelaide marketing expert Dr Dean Wilkie.

"Removing the Kraft name runs the risk that many people will not hear about the change. In a perfect world you'd keep it," he said.

Killing off Kraft was never the plan. Rather, the name has fallen victim to a complex series of takeovers and demergers that has left Kraft's products in the bizarre position that, in Australia, they are no longer even owned by Kraft.

Born in Chicago, Kraft is a US brand but it's been in Australia from very early days.

In 1926, Melbourne's Fred Walker, who gave the world Vegemite, persuaded James Kraft, who gave the world cheese slices, to give him the Australian patent for processed cheddar.

A selection of New Zealand sweets. New Zealand sweet manufacturer Cadbury was taken over by Kraft. Photo / File
A selection of New Zealand sweets. New Zealand sweet manufacturer Cadbury was taken over by Kraft. Photo / File

With the patent came the Kraft brand and after Walker's death the US company took full ownership of the Australian offshoot.

And that's the way it stayed until 2010 when Kraft controversially bought British chocolate firm - and Australian favourite - Cadbury.

The most perverse love child of this union was the short lived Cadbury Dairy Milk and Vegemite combo. The less said about that the better.

Just two years later, Kraft decided it was all too much and split into two. Kraft would concentrate on North America where the company's main product was cheese. The newly formed Mondelez company - basically Cadbury plus Oreo - would focus on sweet products elsewhere.

Problem was, in Australia, Mondelez got lumped with Kraft cheese and Vegemite as well as lollies and biscuits.

So a company no longer connected with Kraft had to pay Kraft royalties to make products with the Kraft name they no longer wanted to make.

Unsurprisingly, Mondelez decided it would be simpler to sell the whole lot. In January, it inked an A$460m deal with Bega cheese, and sold the Kraft products allowing Mondelez to "focus its portfolio on its core snacks categories".

But Mondelez has been quietly ditching Kraft for some time. First it vanished from Vegemite, then Philadelphia.

Wilkie told these were the easy brands to change because the Kraft name played second fiddle.

"With Vegemite, people appreciate the taste so much, the actual Kraft name doesn't bring too much to it, it's not that big a negative to not have it.

"But when it comes to other products where the Kraft name is more prominent, like Kraft Cheddar, Mac & Cheese and peanut butter, removing it has the risk that many people may not hear about the change," he said.

Mondelez has confirmed to that other products with the Kraft name will soon be changed. In a recent press release it said, jauntily, "We don't want to bore you with the details, but due to licensing changes, Kraft Singles will now appear under the Dairylea brand."

Kraft Cheddar will soon become Dairylea Cheddar and The Good Nut will adorn all spreads.

It's because of "boring legalities", the company said, and stressed the jars are only "slightly refreshed" and it's the "same great tasting spread".

Australians have a mixed relationship with Kraft. After all, it's the brand that reminded us all that Australia's Vegemite was actually US owned.

Wilkie said consumers had become used to local brands being owned by overseas companies. "But I don't think anyone will miss Kraft. No one is aware of the Kraft story; it's just an established name that brings reassurance," he said.

"With Cadbury there's joy and happiness; people gift blocks of chocolate, but no one gifts a block of cheddar," he said.

"If you think of marketing trends it's all about smaller brands now, dairy farmers and craftsmanship rather than profit."

In an investor presentation, Bega said the licence to use the name Kraft would end in December 2017 and it was "considering a number of brand transition options".

The sale is not yet complete, so Bega told they couldn't say whether they would seek a deal to keep the name on some products or whether Christmas will be the last hurrah for Kraft. They also wouldn't say if they would eventually replace the Dairylea brand with its own name, perhaps creating "Bega Mac & Cheese".

Willkie said six months was a tight deadline to get shoppers used to a new name.

"Changing brands takes time and investment and without that it's going to be tricky to re-establish the brand equity Kraft had.

"Most people will have a repertoire of brands they choose from so if they don't see Kraft peanut butter they may just go with another name they know," he said.

Worse still, they might mistake Dairylea or The Good Nut for a private label.

"If you are not aware of the changeover, you might think it's a glorified me-too product."

But even if Kraft does soon disappear, it could yet be reincarnated in another form.

In 2015, Kraft was taken over by US giant Heinz, which already has a substantial Australian presence. KraftHeinz, as it's now called, will retake Australian custodianship of the Kraft name next year, but for a whole different range of products - not the ones you know now.

"The versatility and iconic status of the Kraft brand makes it ideal for future innovation in line with consumer preferences and trends," a KraftHeinz spokeswoman told

KraftHeinz did not reveal a timeline, or specific products it would be looking to launch here, so there could be several years of Kraft-less supermarket aisles. It's also unlikely they, at least initially, will compete with the current range.

"It's a brand that we love and are excited to welcome back to our portfolio. Over time, the brand will get stronger again," she said.

So perhaps it's less of a goodbye to Kraft, and more "until we meet again".