x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'Marmageddon' over as New Zealand toasts the return of Marmite

Supermarkets across New Zealand stocked up with Marmite for the first time in more than a year today after its only factory closed following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Jars of marmite were selling for about Dh250 on the internet during New Zealand's 'Marmageddon'.
Jars of marmite were selling for about Dh250 on the internet during New Zealand's 'Marmageddon'.

WELLINGTON // Supermarkets across New Zealand stocked up with Marmite for the first time in more than a year today, as a shortage of the salty spread caused by the Christchurch earthquake came to an end.

In a culinary crisis dubbed "Marmageddon", the country's only Marmite factory closed after sustaining damage in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, halting production of the thick, black concoction.

The factory was supposed to reopen in mid-2012 but the work ran behind schedule, leaving Kiwis including prime minister John Key complaining about missing their breakfast treat.

Jars of the spread, which is typically smeared on toast and is likened by critics to axle grease laced with salt, exchanged hands for up to NZ$80 or about Dh250 on internet auction sites as customers sought their savoury fix.

Food company Sanitarium said the factory was now finally back up and running, allowing supplies to resume.

"Marmite is back on supermarket shelves across NZ," it said on its Facebook page.

"Thanks for not freaking out and for waiting patiently for the black gold's return. It's back and now it's time to celebrate!"

Supermarkets in downtown Wellington were rationing jars at two per customer today, with stocks still disappearing fast.

"I'm very happy," shopper Robyn Lonergan said. "I've tried the alternatives but they're just not the same, so I've had to have jam or peanut butter on my toast."

The New Zealand spread tastes slightly different to Australia's Vegemite and the British version of Marmite, which has long been marketed with the line "you either love it or hate it".

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked New Zealand's second-largest city in early 2011 killed 185 people. It was the country's worst tremor for 80 years.