Import ban slapped on UK Marmite

SAM BOYER
Last updated 10:27 29/08/2012
uk marmite
BANNED: Sanitarium has banned imports of UK Marmite.

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Sanitarium has slapped an import ban on Marmite shipped in from the United Kingdom, six months after earthquake damage closed its Kiwi plant.

But the import ban isn't a reaction to the company's inability to produce the 'black gold', Sanitarium says.

General manager Pierre van Heerden said the ban was merely a timely trademark protection - an announcement that will come as little comfort to the hordes of still Kiwis craving the black spread.

''In July we asked Customs to put notices on our products. The issue is the trademark. We are definitely not trying to bully ... The notice is for the bulk importation for resale.''

Marmageddon struck in March when earthquake damage caused the closure of the only Christchurch factory that produces Marmite.

This month, Customs approved import bans for Marmite and Weetbix - both Sanitarium products - and 2000 jars of UK-made Marmite have now been halted by Customs on the docks at Lyttelton.

A Kaiapoi businessman was informed on Friday that his $11,700 container of Marmite could not be unloaded in New Zealand, The New Zealand Herald reported this morning.

But Mr van Heerden said the ban would not stop British expats consuming the UK version of the product, if they bought it under its 'Our Mate' product name.

''If you are going to have something else, this isn't going to cut down your options. If the expats want a taste of England, there's Our Mate available.''

Marmite production was tipped to return in July, but Mr van Heerden said there's still nothing in the works.

''We are doing everything possible to get Marmite back on the shelves. There were problems with the weather and getting consents through.

''We don't have a final date yet, but I can assure consumers we want Marmite back as much as they do.''

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