Marmite back on shelves in March
Marmite is back in production and will be back on supermarket shelves in just over a month, Sanitarium has confirmed.
General manager Pierre van Heerden said the yeast spread would be back on sale by March 20.
Marmite production was suspended in March after earthquake damage to a cooling tower at Sanitarium’s Christchurch factory rendered the nearby Marmite building unsafe.
In what media dubbed Marmageddon, more than a month's supply of the spread was bought up within days when the shortage was announced.
Van Heerden confirmed repairs to the factory were now complete, but there would be a delay between when production began and when Marmite would appear on shelves.
"Getting it across New Zealand with be the hard part. I have to make sure there is enough so everyone gets a jar. "
Details of the release have been kept so secret, that up until today's announcement, only van Heerden and Prime Minister John Key knew the date it would be back on shelves.
The factory had been expected to resume production halfway through last year, with Marmite back on shop shelves by July, but further inspection revealed more quake damage.
Sanitarium had stopped giving estimated production dates, due to the number of setbacks Marmite's return had experienced.
A Christchurch City Council building inspector began work at the site in December - indicating repairs had reached the final stages, and on January 22 Sanitarium announced Marmite-making equipment was being tested.
Before it shut, the Christchurch factory was producing about 64,000kg of Marmite each year.
Van Heerden said it was likely more than that would be produced this year, as people rushed to restock their cupboards, but the company expected sales to even out over time.
"If we look at it on an annual basis, it is likely we will produce more this year because we've got to make sure we have got sufficient stock for everyone."
Van Heerden said only the 250g jars would be produced at first, and once the demand for those petered out, they could focus on the other products.
"It's just been such an amazing relief to bring this news to New Zealand. We have been under stress for 15 months now and it's been a huge struggle to get it back as fast as we could because we know Kiwis love their Marmite."
It's news that is sure to ring sweetly in the ears of Marmite-lovers, some of which, had resorted to paying exorbitant prices to peddlers who saw the opportunity for a quick buck on online auction website TradeMe.
The Marmite shortage also led to legal action from Sanitarium, which sought to seize a shipment of British Marmite brought into the country to meet demand.
Sanitarium took Christchurch man Rob Savage to the High Court, claiming his attempt to bring in Ma'mite - a British Diamond Jubilee version of the spread - infringed on its trademark rights.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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