Marmite Shortage Inspires Panic in New Zealand

Categories: Wake Up Call

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flickr/Sarah Rose

New Zealanders are terrified that stores of one of their national products, the pungently flavored yeast extract spread Marmite, are at critically low levels. The panic buying has already begun in earnest , and unopened jars of Marmite are selling for 200 New Zealand dollars ($161) on New Zealand's version of eBay, Trade Me.

Call it Marmageddon.

Marmite is the product of the appetizingly named Sanitarium food company. From the perspective of an American, it is likely that Marmite and other yeast extract based foods are not actually made from what we would classify as "food." Making Marmite involves boiling down yeast extract, a byproduct of brewing beer, until it forms a dark, thick, sticky, and pungently savory paste. It isn't for everyone.

The company's Marmite webpage indicates that the severe earthquake last November damaged the only production line for creating Marmite. They do not expect production to resume any sooner than July and urge consumers, "Don't freak. We'll be back soon."

Some commentators have even suggested New Zealanders prepare their own Marmite from scratch. A daunting proposition when you consider that making Marmite takes more than a week of intense labor and involves skimming off the sludge of the brewing process.

If all this talk of "yeast extract spread" has making you hungry, Cost Plus World Market sells both the British and the Australian version of Marmite, known as Vegemite, popularized by the 1981 Men at Work song, "Down Under."

We suggest you call first before heading to your nearest World Market to stock up, just in case Marmageddon has hit metro Phoenix.

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