Marmite makes much-awaited return

KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2013
Fairfax NZ

With Marmite being back on the shelves, Stuff took to the streets to find out whether you can tell the difference between the yeast spread and its rival.

Marmite's long awaited return

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Marmite lovers rejoice, Marmageddon is over.

As supermarkets and dairies opened this morning, little jars of black gold, a rarity since production was suspended a year ago, were waiting to be snapped up.

Production of the yeast spread was halted at Sanitarium's Christchurch factory in March last year because of earthquake damage.

Jars of Marmite were soon popping up on Trade Me and in charity auctions, drawing bids of hundreds of dollars. One 500g jar in Nelson sold for $1110 in an auction for a hospice shop.

But Sanitarium general manager Pierre van Heerden announced last month that Marmite would grace shelves again today after production resumed at the factory last month.

A few eager stores across the country put their stock on shelves yesterday ahead of the midnight relaunch, Mr van Heerden said.

"We did get reports of one or two stores jumping the gun. But they assured me that the stocks were pulled off the shelves pretty quickly.

"It was unfortunate, because we wanted to ensure everyone could purchase stock at the same time."

Major supermarket chains had been given an allocation from the first run of half a million 250g jars, and the company would continue to distribute them that way "until things settle down", Mr van Heerden said.

Delays in production had been disappointing, with a proposed return date of July 2012 pushed back due to the discovery of further earthquake damage at the factory.

"It's been a stressful period for our staff and contractors working on this, especially when the unexpected delays came through . . . people outside of Christchurch sometimes don't realise the impact the earthquakes have had, with buildings still coming down and all.

"That we are now back up and running again, the way I see it we've actually done well."

Chaffers New World (Wellington) duty manager Benny Mok said he and his 13-year-old son had been excitedly waiting for Marmite's return.

"We've been improvising with other spreads, but it's just not the same."

The store had 78 cartons of 250g jars to sell for $4.19 - about the same price as before production stopped - and were expecting it to sell out fairly quickly.

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