Dick Smith says he is delighted that Vegemite has returned to the Aussie hands of Bega Cheese and will consider selling his gluten free spread to the company.
Entrepreneur Dick Smith has welcomed Vegemite's return to Australian ownership -and says he would have paid even more for it.
Mr Smith, whose eponymous food company sells rival OzEmite as a locally owned alternative to the famous yeast spread, said he was delighted to hear Bega Cheese had agreed to acquire the iconic spread and other well-known brands for $460 million.
He said he had written to Vegemite's American owners a number of times in a bid to bring the product home, but had never received "a proper answer".
"You would have thought they would want to get a good price on it but they obviously haven't bothered," Mr Smith told AAP.
"We would have paid more for it because there are millions of Australians who would invest in a Vegemite company - every mum and dad, everyone would."
Inspired by actor Paul Newman', whose US-based Newman's Own still makes mayonnaise and salad dressings the Hollywood legend's death, Mr Smith set up Dick Smiths Foods to support products made in Australia from local ingredients by Australian-owned companies.
Mr Smith, who made his fortune from the chain of electronics stores that carried his name, donates profits from the business to charity.
Bega has agreed to buy brands including Vegemite, ZoOSh mayonnaise and Bonox in a deal to acquire most of Mondelez International's Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business.
But despite Vegemite's return, Mr Smith said OzEmite would remain on shelves because of its niche market. Vegemite is made out of brewers' yeast from wheat, but OzEmite is made from corn and is therefore gluten free.
"We have a tremendous amount of loyal people who want gluten free and we designed OzEmite to be gluten free, so I don't think we could get rid of it," Mr Smith said.
He said there is a staggering market for the gluten free alternative, with more than a million jars sold since the product hit supermarket shelves.
Mr Smith said he would consider selling the product to Bega Cheese so that a gluten free option would continue to be available to consumers.
"I have no interest in making any money from it or running another business but if it is back in Australian hands I am delighted," he said.