This article has been updated with a comment received from South Africa’s Marmite producer, Pioneer Foods. Scroll down to read more.
Reporting by Katy Rose and Bianca Jones, resident Marmite-lovers.
South African Marmite lovers were left worried this week after the United Kingdom experienced a shortage of the salty, vegetarian sandwich spread. Many were left wondering if South Africa would suffer a similar #Marmageddon?
It has been a domino cascade of unfortunate events for Marmite in the UK. Pubs and restaurants were closed in late March across Britain in a measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus across that country. The pandemic forced the closure of almost all public spaces, and with that, the consumption of beer suddenly dropped.
Breweries in the UK, as here in South Africa, have been forced to halt all production of beers, ales and lagers after demand fell drastically. With the minimal production of beer, there came an unforeseen consequence – the end to brewer’s yeast, an essential ingredient in Marmite.
Brewer’s yeast is a by-product of beer brewing, but it is an important nutritional supplement used widely to improve foods and beverages. High in B-vitamins and folic acid, brewer’s yeast (sometimes called nutritional yeast) is particularly beneficial to those following a vegetarian lifestyle.
In the UK, Marmite availability has been limited to the standard jar size (250g) and with South Africa’s appetite for the spread almost (but not quite) equal to the Brits, we needed to get to the bottom of this.
Food24 reached out to South Africa’s Marmite producer, Pioneer Foods, for comment on what this means for South African Marmite fans. Says Mandy Murphy, Managing Executive of Condiments and Spreads at Pioneer Foods:
“The last few months have been tough at our Marmite factory because we had been unable to procure any supply of yeast, a key ingredient, during the lockdown period. This is because two of our key suppliers of yeast in South Africa, AB-Inbev and Heineken, have not been permitted to operate. As yeast is a live product, we are unable to stockpile it and hence the production unit had to stop functioning.”
But Mandy has some comforting words for fans: “However, the good news is that from the end of the month, the breweries have promised to deliver yeast to us once again – so that the Marmite machines will once again be operational.
The even better news is that there is plenty of Marmite available on retail shelves across the country, particularly of our 125g bottles – and after all, dynamite comes in small packages!”
Marmite is most often enjoyed on hot buttered toast, but it is also an excellent friend in the kitchen. Add a teaspoon of it to your soups and stews for a rich umami kick.
Due to the Lockdown as a result of Covid-19, there is a current shortage of brewer’s yeast – one of the main ingredients…