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