The Case of Marmite Shortages: An Odd Supply Chain Problem

By: | June 30th, 2020

Image by Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay

Marmite fans are anxiously browsing the supermarket lanes, and all they can find right now is smaller jars of the beloved spread. Apparently, the COVID-19 lockdown has caused an unexpected shortage due to a peculiar supply chain connecting that links Marmite with the beer brewing industry.

You see Marmite is made out of beer brewer’s yeast, and the outbreak of coronavirus has shut down beer pubs around the globe and halted the production in most breweries. As a result, Marmite started running out of the stuff, and so the production was interrupted. Now, and after a couple of months, it’s on the verge of stalling.

After Marmite pleaded for help, many breweries have responded positively. The beer makers are just beginning to restart the production, and the time coincides with that of Marmite seeing its stockpiles of yeast going poof. BrewDog tweeted that they will supply yeast to Marmite producers for free, while Carlsburg also responded by promising huge amounts of additional yeast to be shipped to Marmite plants.

People who stayed home all this time have generally increased their consumption of food, and so Marmite had to accommodate a sudden spike in the demand for the spread. For the fans of the stuff, having to go through lockdown while also rationing their favorite spread is like stabbing them in their heart. 

The exact composition and manufacturing process of the product remains a well-guarded secret, and although not everyone is a fan of its taste, it certainly has a devoted followership. For now, 400-gram packs have vanished from the market, and people are only able to find 250-gram jars or even smaller one-time “squeezers”.

Going even further down the line of the brewer’s yeast supply chain, Marmite is used by “Walkers Crisps” to add flavor on the chips, various rice cake brands, in the Starbucks “Marmite Panini” sandwich, and also by the “Mini Cheddars” biscuits. Of course, chefs and also home cooks are using Marmite in several dishes to add ‘umami’ taste, so the implications of this shortage are far more widespread that one would casually guess.


Bill Toulas

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