N Zealand PM: Hands off my Marmite
Wellington - New Zealand Prime Minister John
Key complained his personal supplies of Marmite were dwindling on Tuesday, amid
a nationwide shortage of the salty spread caused by the Christchurch
In a culinary crisis that has been dubbed
"Marmageddon", the country's only Marmite factory in Christchurch
closed in November due to earthquake damage and will not resume production of
the thick, black savoury concoction until July.
Key said the shortage was already impacting
on the prime ministerial breakfast.
"I'm going to have to go thin I'm
afraid. I have a very small amount in my office and once that runs out I'm
obviously aware that supplies are very short," he told TV3 on Tuesday.
However, in a move unlikely to endear him to
New Zealand purists, he revealed he was also a fan of Marmite's Australian
"I've got to be honest I can eat
Vegemite as well. I'm a consumer that can move between brands, I'm ashamed to
say it," he said.
Food company Sanitarium has urged consumers
to make the most of existing Marmite supplies by spreading it thinly on their
breakfast toast or rationing to once a day.
"With toast it's a little bit warmer so
it spreads easier and it goes a little bit further," general manager
Pierre van Heerden told public radio on Monday.
Van Heerden revealed Marmite had already sold
out in some parts of the country and appealed for shoppers not to clear
remaining stocks for their own hoards.
"People need to be considerate of their
fellow Kiwis," he said.
"There's no need to panic or freak out
that Marmite isn't going to be available in the longer term, this is a
short-term hiccup because of the earthquakes."
Online prediction website ipredict.co.nz was
forecasting an 83% chance Marmite would be rationed in New Zealand supermarkets
on Tuesday, while one seller on auction website trademe.co.nz was offering jars
at up to $50. The New Zealand spread tastes slightly different to Vegemite and
the British version of Marmite, which has long been marketed with the line
"you either love it or hate it".
Fans of each variation insist that theirs is
the best, although the appeal often escapes those who have not grown up eating
Some critics liken such spreads, based on
brewer's yeast extract, to axle grease laced with salt.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton almost
caused a diplomatic incident on a 2010 visit to Australia when she said:
"I've never understood why you would ruin a perfectly good slice of bread