A new food giant, National Foods, was created by the Adelaide Steamship Company by amalgamating several dairy and food-related businesses with brand names and histories dating back to the 19th century. National Foods was part of an increasing concentration of ownership of food manufacture and marketing in Australia. By 1992, as a result of takeovers and consolidations among the big corporates, 60% of Australia’s food market was shared by only 20 food manufacturing companies.
From the time of its formation, National Foods had a dairy focus. The majority of its initial earnings came from the Allowrie family of brands which, as well as Allowrie butter, included Bodalla, Farmers Union, Peters Farm, Fruche, Tasmaid, Golden North and Pura. The new entity also absorbed Cheetham salt (Cerebos, Saxa and others), Sunburst Regency fruit drinks (Sunburst, Quelch, Prima, Sunny Boy) and the Glad range of household wraps.
Over the next two decades, National Foods went on to expand its dairy holdings, acquiring United Dairies in New South Wales in 1993 and the rights to distribute and manufacture Yoplait products in 1995. In 2001, the group acquired the specialty cheesemakers, King Island Dairy Company.
National Foods was taken over by the Philippines-owned drinks company, San Miguel, in 2005 after which the Berri brands (Berri, Daily Juice, Australian Fresh, Just Juice and many more) were merged into the portfolio. Another change of ownership was not far away. In 2008 the company was bought by Japan’s Kirin Holdings and became Lion Nathan National Foods. Still on the acquisition trail, Kirin soon added Dairy Farmers and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to the dairy roster.
The company became the largest in the Australian dairy industry and one of their brands, Pura, was the first milk brand to be sold nationwide. In 2011 it was announced that the company would be known as Lion Dairy & Drinks.
Lion Dairy & Drinks was acquired by Bega Cheese in January 2021 returning many popular brands to Australian ownership.