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U.K. Suffers Marmite Shortage During COVID-19 Pandemic


Whether you love it or hate it, Marmite is more than just a condiment.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) I hate Marmite. I hate Marmite.

KING: The popular but polarizing paste is a staple of British pantries.

TIM ROBEY: Marmite is a very strange thing which many British people cannot live without.


People like Tim Robey of London.

ROBEY: I put it on toast with then cheese on it as well. Like, if I have an egg on toast, I make sure it's buttered, and Marmite as well. I basically can't live without Marmite, and I have to have it pretty much every day.

INSKEEP: That could be a bit of a challenge because there's a shortage of the sticky spread during the pandemic.

ROBEY: Well, this is what happened when I started to run out. I went to the shop, and I noticed in the shops that they only had the small jars.

KING: So Robey asked the company, what is the deal here?

ROBEY: I just tweeted, @marmite, hello. I need Marmite like oxygen and really need more 400-gram squeezy jars.

KING: And Marmite wrote back.

ROBEY: Hi, Tim. Due to brewer's yeast being in short supply - one of the main ingredients in Marmite - supplies of Marmite have been affected.

INSKEEP: Brewer's yeast, we're told, comes from beer production. Beer-makers have slowed their production after British pubs closed due to the coronavirus. And when there's no yeast, there's no Marmite.

KING: The company had to limit its production to smaller 250-gram jars, which is enough to last Robey maybe a couple weeks.

ROBEY: So I got through - yeah - nearly 800 grams of Marmite in two months.

INSKEEP: Robey has become resourceful. He did manage to score a 600-gram tub online. He figures that bulk sizes were not affected.

KING: Even so, for now, for some, Marmite remains a precious resource.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) I hate Marmite. I hate Marmite.

INSKEEP: That is the new normal, as they say. And until production picks up again, Robey will just have to keep calm and carry on.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.