Store auctions 25kg of Marmite

As Marmite jar numbers across the country continue to plummet, one Hamilton wholesale store has unearthed the holy grail of yeast spreads - a full 25kg bucket.

Production on the Kiwi breakfast staple had to be suspended after earthquake damage to a cooling tower at the company's Christchurch factory rendered the nearby Marmite building unsafe.

According to its maker, Sanitarium, New Zealand's supply is expected to run out within weeks and production was not expected to recommence until July.

Auctioning the mega haul on Trade Me, Gilmours owner Rick Donaldson said the idea came after some "tea-room banter".

"We were all in the staff room yesterday just having a bit of a laugh about the auctions that were popping up on Trade Me, and thought it was a pity all the Marmite had run out on our shelves."

But one worker then recalled the colossus container sitting in a store room, after a client which they ordered the bulk lot in for decided they no longer needed it.

Rather than keep it out for sale, they decided to pull it off the shelves only to sell to someone who specifically needed a large amount of Marmite.

That was more than a year back, and now the nation needs a large amount of Marmite, Donaldson said.

One happy Marmite-lover stands to walk away with a 175g  jar, along with the extra 25kg bucket, "so that you can refill your prized purchase in the comfort of your own home," according to the auction.

Placed on Trade Me at about 5pm last night, the auction had already attracted more than 30 bids by 11am today, and dozens of comments.

Worth more than $200 retail, the highest bid stood at $102.23 at 11.42am, and Donaldson said all of the money from the auction would go to a charity of the winner's choice.

The auction closes Friday.

Meanwhile, supermarkets across the country have been putting up signs alerting customers of their depleted Marmite stocks, while people in breakfast-related frenzies have been sourcing jars by any means possible.

Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Shallue confirmed New World Eastridge in Auckland had implemented a one-per-customer ration on Marmite.

The announcement has triggered a payout from iPredict for users trading on the bet that a ration would be implemented before Marmite was expected to come back into production.

Sitting at 54 per cent probability, traders were paid a $1 each for correctly predicting a ration would be applied in either a Foodstuffs or a Progressives-owned store.

Spokesman Matthew Hooton would not say how many traders had guessed correctly, but said the Marmite stocks turned out to be one of the most popular contracts, "with many thousands of dollars changing hands among traders over the last 36 hours".

Major hotels so far seemed to be exempt from the crisis, with Wellington's James Cook Grand Chancellor and the Intercontinental Hotel both confirming they did not serve Marmite to customers.

James Cook stock purchaser Ron Maravilla said they only served Marmite to staff, preferring to give Vegemite to their guests. He said staff were down to their last jar.

Convenience store chain Night 'n Day has announced all their 45 stores across New Zealand still had stocks of Marmite as at 9am yesterday, but sales had increased since news of the shortage broke.