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Rush of Marmite auctions as shortage looms

Published: 11:52AM Monday March 19, 2012 Source: ONE News with Fairfax

Sanitarium has warned Marmite fans to use the popular breakfast spread sparingly as some look to profit from the looming nation-wide shortage.

New Zealand's Marmite stock is expected to run out within weeks after earthquake damage at the Sanitarium Christchurch factory forced production to be abandoned.  

The news has prompted several Trade Me users to list the iconic Kiwi spread on Trade Me, some with a "buy now" price of $100.

Sanitarium general manager Pierre van Heerden said there was enough stock in circulation to last a few weeks but production was not expected to resume until midway through this year.

He recommends marmite fans enjoy the spread on toast, not plain bread, as the heat melts the Marmite and stretches it further.

"Marmite is a brand that Kiwis really love, it's been around for many years, and when people go overseas one of the first things they love is their Marmite," said Heerden.

"If you have it every day, maybe have it every second day, and don't go out there and panic buy because there are other Kiwis whose jars might not be as full as yours."

Heerden said work was happening to either identify a new building to house the Marmite factory in, or to carry out work on the tower as quickly as possible so staff could move back in.

"We are in the process of talking to food distribution centres to get an idea of how much stock is out there, but it is hard because some supermarkets will have more stock than others.

Sanitarium has considered importing a similar yeast-based spread from abroad but says the taste is too different for Kiwi taste buds. 

The Christchurch plant produces about 640,000kg of Marmite every year.

The damaged tower is attached to the Weetbix factory, and earlier this year Sanitarium had to halt manufacturing the cereal, while production was shifted to a smaller factory in Auckland.