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There is a shortage of Marmite in South Africa

There is a shortage of Marmite in South Africa

South Africans are again reporting that they can’t find the yeast-derived spread Marmite on shelves – and this time the shortages are forecast to last for a few months.

Marmite supplies ran low in 2020 too, after alcohol bans disrupted the supply of brewers’ yeast from beermakers AB-Inbev and Heineken. The spread is made from a concentrated extract from that byproduct of making beer.

Yeast of sufficient quality remains scarce, manufacturers Pioneer Foods say, and without it there’s no way to make enough Marmite to satisfy demand.

Pioneer says it expects supplies to normalise over the course of coming months, with on-shelf shortages reducing end of August.

The competing – though many argue far inferior – Bovril spread is not affected, even though it too uses yeast; the mixed yeast required for Bovril is not in short supply, said Pioneer, which makes both.

In October, Marmite brand owners PepsiCo told Business Insider South Africa it had first restarted production of 125g jars, later followed by 250g jars, as it secured the necessary yeast.

The smaller jars have become more prominent on shelves in many parts of the world, with the pandemic and associated lockdowns and restrictions reducing overall beer consumption. Though alcohol bans were not common, the likes of the UK closed pubs, which had a significant if less dramatic impact on brewing businesses.

Marmite was created in the early 1900s by the German scientist Justus Liebig, who realised that brewers’ yeast could be used to make a food flavouring with a meaty taste.


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