Quite frankly, a Marmite shortage to me is a storm in a teacup. I have always loved Vegemite as it contains no sugar like Marmite does. But New Zealanders have got themselves into quite a tizz as news of a Marmite shortage due the Christchurch earthquakes is set to hit our breakfast menus.

As NZ and Australia borders on an all-out Marmite crisis, fans of the dark yeasty spread are being urged to start rationing.

The spread has been out of production since Sanitarium was forced to close its Christchurch production plant in November after an earthquake-damaged tower block put staff safety at risk.

The Christchurch plant supplies all the Marmite for Australasia.

The last remaining stocks have been sent to supermarket distribution centres, and when those are gone, there’ll be no more Marmite until at least July, when operations at the Christchurch plant are expected to resume.

Sanitarium general manager Pierre van Heerden is urging customers not to panic-buy the spread, to try and minimise the shortage.

“What we’re doing is asking consumers to use their Marmite sparingly at this stage,” Mr van Heerden says.

He’s suggesting consumers use Marmite on hot toast, instead of bread, because it spreads thinner and goes further.

“We will be back with Marmite, we will be manufacturing Marmite in New Zealand, and it will be the same product, so there’s no need to panic or freak out that Marmite isn’t going to be available in the longer term. This is a short-term hiccup because of the earthquakes,” he said.

Mr van Heerden is confident the shortage won’t push desperate customers to buy rival spread, Kraft’s Vegemite.

“Our experience has been that if you eat Marmite, you don’t eat the other spreads and you really love the Marmite that you’ve grown up with.

“We anticipate that our consumers will be patient, this is something that is beyond our control and I can just assure everyone that we’re doing everything possible to get Marmite’s production back up.”

Sanitarium is still deconstructing the damaged manufacturing tower before work takes place to ensure the Christchurch plant is safe.

Mr van Heerden says the company has the assistance of Christchurch City Council to ensure no red tape holds up Marmite’s return.

~TV3

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