At Sanitarium, we're about more than just selling food. A strong sense of purpose drives our people, because we believe healthier choices, lead to better lives, happier people and stronger communities. Simply put, when you eat well, you'll live well.
We've learned by the example of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan in the United States, where doctors successfully introduced natural remedies and simple unprocessed foods into the diets of their patients. As far back as the 1890s, the Sanitarium doctors were advocating healthier eating, drinking fresh water and exercising in the fresh air to help people 'learn to stay well' (which is the meaning of the word Sanitarium). At this time, the Battle Creek Sanitarium was world renowned and became the 'in' place for the rich and famous to seek their lost health, to listen to health lectures and to learn and practice the principles of a healthy lifestyle.
One baker's tale
In January of 1901, 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.
Since Edward Halsey began the business, the Sanitarium Health Food Company has remained at the forefront of healthy eating. We advocated vegetarian eating as a healthy diet option long before it was trendy to do so and we were the first to introduce the concept of the health food shop to New Zealanders.
Today, Sanitarium New Zealand is owned and operated by New Zealanders while Sanitarium Australia is owned and operated by Australians. We do work together; however, to produce over 150 products and employ approximately 1500 people in our manufacturing and distribution sites throughout New Zealand and Australia.
Brands you've grown up with
Sanitarium's original wheat biscuit, Granose, was marketed in New Zealand during the early 1900s, not only as a breakfast cereal but also as an alternative to bread. During the 1920s, Sanitarium faced a challenge to Granose from a new sweetened flake biscuit called Weet-BixTM, which was produced by a company called Grain Products.
In 1930, Sanitarium acquired Grain Products, which also had connections to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and made Weet-BixTM its own.
MarmiteTM was introduced to New Zealand by Sanitarium. Initially it was imported from the United Kingdom but shortly before World War II, we secured the secret recipe from the English and made the first MarmiteTM in our Cooranbong factory in 1944.
Since the 1970s, Sanitarium's Christchurch factory has manufactured all the MarmiteTM sold in the South Pacific.
A century of healthy living
As early as the 1900s, Sanitarium introduced New Zealanders and Australians to the concept of health food shops and vegetarian cafes. The first Sanitarium cafés opened in March 1902 in Sydney's Pitt Street and in 1907 in Auckland's Victoria Street. These stores generally incorporated a café as well as a retail outlet.
The overriding aim of the cafes was to introduce people to a better way of living through vegetarian meals and cooking lessons. While the stores flourished through to the 1960s, changes in buying habits of consumers prompted Sanitarium to close its cafes and retail stores.
However, our commitment to sharing our knowledge has not ceased. We now provide education and information through our Sanitarium Nutrition Service, which was established in 1987.