N Zealand PM: Hands off my Marmite

2012-03-20 14:24

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 earthquakes.

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 rival Vegemite.

"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 was forecasting an 83% chance Marmite would be rationed in New Zealand supermarkets on Tuesday, while one seller on auction website 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 them.

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 with Vegemite."

  • Joe - 2012-03-20 14:44

    I hate Marmite , but LOVE BOVRIL !!!

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-03-20 15:21

      Me too, Bovril or OXO

      Peter - 2012-03-20 16:18

      Me three

  • J-Man - 2012-03-20 14:45


  • Fanie - 2012-03-20 14:48


  • Heiku - 2012-03-20 14:59

    Now that I know marmite is a kiwi thing I'm switching to bovril.

      vlarismam - 2012-03-20 15:07

      LOL - you'll be back!

      Se-a Spencer Ikeremm - 2012-03-20 15:23

      I'm pretty sure it's a British thing.

      Heiku - 2012-03-20 15:38

      ^ even worse!

      Marc - 2012-03-20 16:26

      It isn't a Kiwi thing - it's Brit. They just have a subtle difference in the taste of theirs. And it seems to cause earthquakes for one thing.

  • Dianne - 2012-03-20 15:32

    Isn't marmite from south america ha ha? Here's a gilt-edged opportunity to start exporting marmite to the land of the long white cloud and pack it in your suitcase if you're flying over. On 2nd thoughts they'll probably confiscate at the airport ha ha!

      E - 2012-03-20 16:45

      Right, let's organise an emergency aid shipment to those poor suffering deprived muttons - and then charge them nz$50 or nz$100 per item when they queue up!! btw, the factory manager is a van Heerden - something tells me there is an SA connection there already ...

  • Mouldy - 2012-03-20 15:40

    Where's my Marmite! Try this: Spread some Marmite on toast, then spread some rasberry jam or Llyles Golden Syrup over it, add a slab of cheddar cheese then slap another piece of toast spread with marmite on top of that. YUMMY!

      Nico - 2012-03-20 15:47

      Thats how I eat it..... mmmmmm.

      lene.pieters - 2012-03-20 17:18

      Another yummy variety: marmite on soetkoekies is fabulous!

  • Rich - 2012-03-20 15:55

    look on the bright side, you still have your cricket team..... Er??

  • Winsome - 2012-03-20 19:26

    Maybe the people who make it will now send him a whole boxful - this is a good advert for fabulous Marmite - I love it on hot toast with cheese - yum!

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