Tuesday 20 March 2012: 'Marmageddon'
New Zealand is gripped by a crisis - and I'm not talking about the extreme weather that has brought flooding to the far north and gale-force winds and rain to other parts of the North Island in the past two days. This is a crisis so severe that the Prime Minister has had to speak out about it and put his own personal slant on the matter.
The country is running out of Marmite.
I first heard about this on the radio yesterday, where it featured in the News ahead of an update on All Black Dan Carter's recovery from injury (so it's being taken pretty seriously!). In fact, the manager of the Sanitarium plant in Christchurch, which manufactures Marmite, was heard to say that the Fendalton branch of a certain supermarket had only eight jars of the stuff left in stock.
Here, in the words of the New Zealand Herald, is the full, alarming story:
" 'Marmageddon': There's always Vegemite, says PM
By NZ Herald Online staff
Prime Minister John Key is among thousands of Kiwis having to ration their Marmite, as 'Marmageddon' enters its second day.
Supermarket shelves around the country are being stripped bare of the popular breakfast spread, after production was halted due to earthquake damage discovered at Sanitarium's Christchurch plant - the only plant where Marmite is made.
Sanitarium is urging consumers not to "freak out" as it works to relocate its Marmite manufacturing facilities to a safer part of the Christchurch site. But it is asking consumers to ration their Marmite use while supplies are spread thin.
Mr Key said he too will have to spread thin to ensure his supply lasts.
"I only have got a very small amount in my office and once that runs out I'm aware supplies are very short."
However Mr Key told Firstline this morning that he also likes the Australian-made rival Vegemite.
"I've got to be honest, I can eat both."
Sanitarium general manager Pierre van Heerden said people should consider spreading it on toast rather than uncooked bread to make it last.
"With toast, it's a little bit warmer so it spreads easier and it goes a little bit further," he told Radio New Zealand.
"So what we're asking consumers is maybe if they could have their Marmite on toast, ration it a little bit, maybe have it only once a day or every second day until such time as we can have full Marmite stocks back out in the marketplace again."
But he urged consumers not to "freak out about it".
"We will get Marmite back, we will be producing it in New Zealand, it will be the same product that we've all come to love." "
What I don't quite understand is why no-one is mentioning the (original) British version of Marmite, which is available here under the name 'Our Mate'. It is made in Britain and imported here under this slightly amusing brand name as Sanitarium owns the rights to the name 'Marmite' in Australia and New Zealand. 'Our Mate' is certainly what graces our table, so we'll be all right, mate.....