Marmite Shortage Shakes New Zealand

New Zealanders are bracing for a possible shortage of their country's breakfast staple, Marmite. The dark, salty spread is a Kiwi cousin of Australian Vegemite. Marmite's manufacturer is still trying to resume production after damage from a New Zealand earthquake last year. As supplies run short, Marmite's producer is offering methods to ration the popular food.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Don't freak. That's what New Zealanders are being told about the Marmite shortage there. For Kiwis, that's a big deal, so the manufacturer of Marmite is doing its best to avert panic.

PIERRE VAN HEERDEN: We're working really hard with the teams focused on this to make sure that we can move it as soon as we can.

SIEGEL: That's Pierre van Heerden, the general manager of Sanitarium, the company that makes Marmite in New Zealand

In case this is puzzling to you, Marmite is a culinary cousin of Vegemite. It's a yeast extract. And the dark, salty Marmite spread is a breakfast staple in New Zealand. But thanks to an earthquake last year and damage to the Marmite processing plant, supplies are dwindling. Marmite could vanish from breakfast tables from Auckland to Christchurch.

So Pierre van Heerden took to airwaves on Radio New Zealand to urge conservation.

HEERDEN: With toast, it's a little bit warmer, so it spreads easier and it goes a little bit further. So what we're asking consumers is maybe they could have their Marmite on toast, ration it a little bit, maybe only have it once a day or every second day.

SIEGEL: And be patient. Van Heerden promises Marmite will return.

HEERDEN: Consumers don't have to freak out about it. We will get Marmite back. It will be the same product that we've all come to love, and the icon of Marmite won't disappear.

SIEGEL: He expects production to resume in July. And one can only hope that that will be soon enough to avert what Kiwis are calling a possible Marmageddon.

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