Longer wait for marmite lovers

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2012
Jacqui Lewis
STACY SQUIRES/The Press

HAPPIER TIMES: Jacqui Lewis packs Marmite off the assembly line at Sanitarium in Christchurch before the plant was damaged and production ceased.

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Bad news for Marmite lovers – you are stuck with other yeast spreads for several months.

Sanitarium New Zealand, which makes the distinctive Kiwi version of the savoury product, said it was unlikely Marmite would be back on the nation's shelves much before November.

General manager Pierre van Heerden said last night that additional earthquake damage had been found at the company's Papanui factory.

"Our revised estimated start-up time frame for Marmite production is October," he said.

"Like our consumers, we are frustrated at the length of time this is taking, but the safety of our staff has to be our first priority."

At the end of April, about six weeks after the spread started disappearing from shops, van Heerden estimated it would be mid-July before Marmite was back in production.

That meant the first batches of the product would be for sale early in August, he said then.

He told The Press last night that engineers had found more damage at the factory.

"As deconstruction and strengthening work continues, it has revealed some further damage to the factory building where Marmite production is located," he said.

"Further deconstruction of a part of the factory, next to where the Marmite plant is located, is required to strengthen the building. Unfortunately, this will impact on the greatly anticipated start-up of production.

"I know everyone is putting in a mighty effort to get Marmite back on the shelf as quickly as possible, and we will continue working closely with our engineers and the authorities."

New Zealand supermarkets have reported increases in sales of as much as 30 per cent of Australian rival Vegemite, Promite and other yeast-extract spreads since April.

Sanitarium attempted to make Marmite at a factory in South Africa early this year, but van Heerden told The Press in April: "It wasn't a happy experience."

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- The Press

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