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If Marmite is made from brewer's yeast, does it contain alcohol?

Our food expert solves your culinary conundrums

25 June 2020 - 00:00 By hilary biller
Marmite is named after a type of French stockpot, which is illustrated on the label of the jar.
Marmite is named after a type of French stockpot, which is illustrated on the label of the jar.
Image: Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images


I’ve heard a lot about the pending shortages of Marmite caused by the scarcity of brewer’s yeast and wondered if Marmite contains alcohol? — Suraya, Mayfair, Joburg


Marmite has been in the headlines recently because, as you indicate, the main ingredient — a concentrated brewer’s yeast extract — has been in short supply.

Brewer’s yeast is a byproduct of beer production. As breweries have not been permitted to operate during lockdown, Pioneer Foods, which manufactures Marmite in SA, has been unable to procure a supply of this yeast.

According to Deborah Ann Sharwood, communication manager at Pioneer Foods, the dark and sticky spread does not contain alcohol. She confirmed that it is spent brewer’s yeast which is used to manufacture it and that any excess alcohol remaining in the yeast evaporates during the intensive Marmite-making process. The product is certified as being both Kosher and Halaal.

In terms of the shortage, the good news is that Marmite is still available on supermarket shelves in the smaller 125g bottles. Once breweries are back in action, probably by July, production of the popular savoury spread will be in full swing.


In a cookery quandary, have a problem with a recipe, bogged down by measurement conversions, or baffled by an ingredient? For sound advice, Sunday Times Food editor Hilary Biller is at your service. Send your queries to food@sundaytimes.co.za, and if yours is selected, we'll answer it in an online article.