Mystery solved: Here's why you might not find Marmite in supermarkets

Our food editor finds out why there's a shortage of the savoury spread in SA

13 October 2021 - 15:31
By Hilary Biller
The Marmite shortage has been referred to as 'Marmageddon' by some fans of the savoury spread.
Image: 123RF/bagwold The Marmite shortage has been referred to as 'Marmageddon' by some fans of the savoury spread.

There’s no messing around when it comes to that dark sticky brown paste. You are either a Marmite or Bovril person, there’s no in-between on this one.

I’m a Marmite gal. For me, a piece of toast thickly spread with butter, a generous smear of Marmite and a topping with cheese is the best start to any day — except of late, as you can't easily find that stubby black jar with its distinctive yellow label on the supermarket shelves.

It's not the first time local Marmite lovers have experienced a shortage of the stuff — the same thing happened late last year.

Pioneer Foods, the manufacturers of both Marmite and Bovril, said the recent short supply can be attributed to the knock-on effect of the lockdown alcohol restrictions impacting the availability of Marmite’s main ingredient, brewers yeast, which is a byproduct of beer production.

“Our yeast supply was constrained with the alcohol ban during lockdown and the production of Bovril (that uses significantly less yeast to produce) was prioritised,” they explained. Mmmm ... not sure Marmite fans would agree this was the right move.

There's another hitch: “In addition to the yeast challenge, we experienced a national shortage of one of the other raw materials, which is key to produce these products and these challenges have further impacted our recovery timing.”

The good news, according to Pioneer Foods, is that the supply has been restored but they are still trying to catch up on the demand to fill the empty pipeline.

The manufacturer indicated the focus is on the production of 250g jars of Marmite and Bovril — the bigger the better, we say — and it will take October and November to build up these stocks.

For now, Marmite is black gold.