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Marmite back from March 20

UPDATE Feb 12, 2013:  Marmite will be back on NZ shelves from March 20, Sanitarium's CEO  Pierre van Heerden said on Campbell Live tonight.

Sanitarium's Christchurch Marmite plant, which supplied the whole of Australia and New Zealand, was damaged in the Christchurch quakes.

Stocks of Marmite ran dry in March 2012.

The drought has sparked a "black market" on Trade Me.

This afternoon, there are 138 Marmite listings, including a 500g jar on which bids have reached $50.00.

Tomorrow, if Marmite does return to shelves, it'll be worth more like $3.50.

Marmite latest: No black Christmas

UPDATE / Nov16, 2012, 5pm: Sanitarium says Marmite lovers will not get a black Christmas.

Sanitarium's New Zealand general manager Pierre van Heerden told NBR ONLINE the company still does not have council approval for its newly-strengthened and reconfigured Christchurch factory.

Therefore, the popular spread will not be back on supermarket shelves before Christmas, he says.

"A black Christmas isn't going to be possible," he said from Melbourne.

He says the company is hoping to have council sign-off by the end of the month and the Marmite machinery has to be tested before it can start producing the spread again.

"It's almost impossible for me now to set a specific on-shelf date because there are still a few uncertainties.

"We will work through them and we're doing everything possible to make sure that time is absolutely limited."

"We've had snow, we've had rain and water coming through the roof, we've just had so much happening together with the aftershocks.

"It has been a nightmare to get this whole project to where it is now."

Mr van Heerden says even if the company had transplanted its machinery to another factory it would be no further ahead.

1pm: Marmite-maker Sanitarium is tight-lipped on when it will be available again. 

The earthquake-enforced shortage of the popular spread has consumers anxious to know when it will return to supermarket shelves. 

But Sanitarium is not playing ball with consumers.

The Seventh-day Adventist-owned company told NBR ONLINE it is unlikely to comment beyond updates posted on its Facebook page – which still has no indication when Marmite will be available.

The shortage has prompted something of a "black" market on auction website Trade Me, with 500g jars selling for more than $65.

Panic buying
The company's Christchurch factory, the only one to make Marmite for New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific, was closed late last year because of earthquake damage.

Panic-buying quickly ended supermarket supply.

Earlier this year, Sanitarium front-footed the issue with its "Don't panic" TV ad campaign fronted by former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry.

At that stage, Marmite was supposed to be back on supermarket shelves in July, but that was subsequently pushed out to October.

Last month the company said factory reconstruction was "almost complete" and the production line would be commissioned last month and this month.

Now the company is giving no guidance at all.

Some commenters on the "Marmite NZ" Facebook page have found alternatives to the popular spread and many are still anxious to find out when Marmite will be available.

'We don't want to mislead'
But a recent comment from the company says: "We wish we could give you an estimate.

"Our experience with reconstruction in Christchurch has been tough, and we don't want to mislead so can't advise a date, even rough, at this stage.

"We still must anticipate production hurdles, too.

"The light will be there – Marmite will be back."

Kelsey O'Brien, personal assistant to the company's New Zealand general manager, Pierre van Heerden, told NBR ONLINE no one was available for comment today.

She said there was unlikely to be any further update beyond what it posted on Facebook.

More by David Williams and NBR staff

Comments and questions


Is life still worth living?

Not good enough Sanitarium! You will loose customers over these delay's Theres no time for prayers! get back to the factory and make some damn Marmite!

Marmite has gone, like the dinosaurs.

(Not that you could explain that analogy to Sanitarium)

Oh yes, what's this? Another good old fashioned kiwi cock-up, that's what it is. Fancy only having one factory that is a capable of manufacturing this product. What sort of third-world BS is this? It's marmite, it's a food, it's not rocket fuel or rocket science!

Be careful! Marmite may end up being produced in China, like our washing machines and refrigerators.

No chance - plenty of other good alternative types out there including the real original British stuff.
If you want the old kiwi taste blend vegemite and the South African stuff.
While you are at it try and taste the real original Weetabix (bit hard to get in NZ) compared to the weird changed stuff that's crumbling out of the Sanitarium factory now.

Silly comment! Seriously how many companies have multiple factories for a population base of 4m people. Before passing judgement on Sanitarium, take a visit to Christchurch and actually look at the task at hand to reconstruct the city and its manufacturing base.

I can't wait for marmite to be back on the shelves but understand the issues they face.

Nonsense. Stop making excuses for incompetent behavior. It's a food item, and Sanitarium has more than just one factory in NZ. Next thing you'll be telling me there should be only one bakery in New Zealand, or just two breweries because we only have 4 million people. Twaddle. And by the way, I have been to Christchurch and are fully aware of the scale of the rebuild so I don't need a lecture from you about it.

Jeez, David, settle down.

It's just a food item, no need to get so stroppy about it.

And it isn't so easy to just set up food production somewhere else.

Now,David, take a deep breath, relax, and play nice. On that you DO need a lecture.

Remember Sanitarium NZ is supplying Marmite to NZ + Australia (20 million) plus various South Pacific Islands

Not since the earthquake ...and I don't see any for sale on Aussie ebay.

What happened to the pom with the imported UK alternative?

Good question.
But don't you mean the real original marmite that Sanitarium copied. And what about that UK Weetabix that Sanitarium got the customs guys to trash apart (ostensibly looking for drugs) that some poor woman imported. Love to find out if any of those customs blokes were associated with the 7th day Adventists.

These guys are PR expects and have strung this out very well - look at all the free publicity they have gained - good grief!

Can we have the English version on sale then? That poor chap still has his imported ma'mite sitting on the docks thanks to inSanitarium precious and monopolistic tax-evading business.

I think they have lost me...........
If there is no NZ Marmite.. does that mean UK Marmite is allowed into the country now??.. there is nothing to be confused about any more...

Thats it - I am boycotting Weetbix in our house. Sanitarium have been arrogant and hopeless over Marmite and they deserve a good old fashion kick up the a@#e. In 2012 that is done by consumer boycotts - hit them where it hurts. Join the crusade - say no to Sanitarium products !

Anxious consumers...well I'm happy to report not in this house nor many who are widely discussing this. Since I found out Sanitarium are just a bunch of tax dodgers with an arrogant and bullying corporate attitude I have discovered a range of pretty decent alternatives to a whole bunch of stuff they make not just Marmite. Sanitarium can swivel as far as I am concerned and all because the started a pathetic little fight with some small relatively insignificant importers bringing in food from overseas that are so different in every regard only a moron would believe the articles are impinging on any 'intellectual property' which by the way I now discover wasn't Sanitariums to begin with. Charity what a joke, pack of shysters more like.

Human genome: we've cracked it; Mars - intelligent robot on the case; cancer breakthrus: every day. But Marmite 4 NZ - too tuff.

Sanitarium lost the plot when they decided to be a bunch of corporate bully boys.
Wonderful commentary on NBR earlier and the comments section is worth framing

Makes me think that finding a building in another part of NZ, relocating the plant into that, and getting production going would have been a much better option than trying to rebuild the existing plant. Probably too late now to embark on that course of action.

How long does a product need to be off the shelf before a trademark can be challenged. 12 months??

I couldn't care anymore as I have converted to Vegemite and doubt that I will return to Marmite, as I have really come to like it.
But on the other Sanitarium foot, if they don't get their Vitabrits & Weetbix sorted I will be outta that too, despite them saying they have not altered it, I will tell you that they have, and they are most welcome to come and collect the 2 boxes of them that I have here,as I will not eat anymore of them because they are foul compared to what I am used too.

All Sanitarium products are now banned from our home.

If the NZ importer is stopped from importing the English Marmite ask a UK grocer to send it to you by economy post and price will be about the same as to here, the more you do for yourself and friends the cheaper it will be.