The Violet Crumble bar, beloved by sweet tooths across the country for more than a century, is set to return to Australian hands.
Swiss food giant Nestle has agreed to sell the brand to South Australian confectioner Robern Menz, best known as the manufacturer of FruChocs.
The deal will see equipment and production of the chocolate and honeycomb treat transferred from Nestle’s factory in the Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield to Robern Menz’s factory at Glynde in Adelaide’s east.
Robern Menz CEO Phil Sims said the purchase “would bring one of Australia’s most iconic and favourite snacks back to Australian ownership”.
“Manufacture will actually be here by September. We have to do an enormous amount of work here to refit part of our factory,” he said.
Nestle said staffing at its Campbellfield factory would be unaffected, but the move would create up to 30 new jobs at Robern Menz, which has promised to stick with the current recipe.
The sale, for an undisclosed sum, follows six months of discussions between the rival confectioners, and was sweetened by a $750,000 SA Government grant.
“We’ve seen a lot of great wins over the last few years but this really is the chocolate on the honeycomb,” Premier Jay Weatherill said.
Nestle is currently undertaking a sell-off of its US chocolate business, and Mr Sims said sale talks had been initiated by the food giant.
Production at the Glynde plant is expected to increase by 37 per cent as the company prepares to expand, investing $4 million on a factory and warehouse redevelopment.
“There’s a new generation that Violet Crumble hasn’t been marketed to. The last national advertising campaign on Violet Crumble was back in the 1990s,” Mr Sims said.
“It’s currently on sale in about eight countries and the opportunity’s obviously far greater.”
Robern Menz, a fourth generation family business, is already the largest Australian manufacturer of choc honeycomb.
“The sale … recognises that they are well positioned to combine their existing honeycomb manufacturing with that of Violet Crumble and continue to invest behind this well-loved brand,” Nestle confectionery general manager Martin Brown said.
“We remain committed to manufacturing our other loved brands, such as KitKat, Milkybar, Allens and Soothers here in Australia.”
Robern Menz said it would look to re-introduce the Violet Crumble in a “variety of nostalgic formats loved by generations”.
The chocolate bars have been manufactured since 1913, and were made in SA under previous manufacturer Rowntree Hoadley until 1985.
“Nestle’s focus … is on global brands,” Mr Sims said.
“Violet Crumble is one that hasn’t had a lot of attention over a long period of time.”