The health food factory in Cooranbong, New South Wales, opened in 1899. [Photo: Adventist Record]

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In Australia, Adventist Food Company Celebrates Significant Milestones

Sanitarium turned 120 in April; Weet-Bix breakfast cereal turns 90.

For Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, 2018 is a big year, during which the health food company is celebrating three significant milestones.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church-owned company notched up 120 years in April, while two of its most popular products, Weet-Bix and UP&GO, are celebrating their 90th and 21st birthdays respectively.

  • A box of Weet-Bix, a healthy breakfast cereal product that turns 90 this year. [Photo: Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing]

  • Sanitarium Health Food Company, a Seventh-day Adventist institution, turned 120 in April 2018. [Photo: Adventist Record]

  • A 1930s ad for Weet-Bix cereal, a product that turns 90 this year. [Photo: Adventist Record]

  • First Sanitarium van in New South Wales, ca. 1927. [Photo: Adventist Record]

Weet-Bix, a high-fiber, low-sugar “biscuit” option for breakfast, is very popular in Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. After so many years, it is still the cereal of choice for millions of people. In 2016, it also entered the Chinese market.

A Rich History

April 27, 1898,was the date when the Sanitarium Health Food Company was officially established in Australia. Also that year, the first sales in New Zealand began with product imported from the United States.

In April 1899, the Cooranbong (New South Wales) factory opened, making peanut butter. In those days the factory wages were one shilling (10 cents) a day, and the manager received 2 pounds per week.

Other significant years include: 1900 — production commenced at Christchurch (NZ) with Granola Cereal and Caramel Cereal; 1902 — first Sanitarium health food store and café opened in Sydney; 1928 — the company purchased Grain Products and the rights to Weet-Bix in Australia; and 1945 — production of Marmite spread began at the Christchurch factory.

Ongoing Relevance

Reflecting on the 120-year history of Sanitarium, CEO Kevin Jackson said the company’s health mission is just as relevant today as at any time in the past.

“Throughout our history,we have focused on supporting positive health choices by providing genuinely healthy foods, by promoting the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and by providing the community with health information and programs to support those choices,” he said.

“We pioneered healthy foods and production of plant-based meat alternatives. Beyond that,we have provided health education to both the community [and] health professionals and advocated at government level for dietary standards and regulatory changes to enhance and preserve community health.

“More recently we have entered the corporate sector, with leading-edge lifestyle modification and intervention programs supported by digital platforms.”

Jackson explained that Sanitarium, at its core, has a genuine and authentic approach to making a real and lasting difference to people’s health and wellbeing.

“I find this hugely motivating and feel challenged with the incredible legacy we have been entrusted with to take it forward and use it to positively impact the health of the next generation,” he said.


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