Britain's latest food shortage is sure to divide the nation – for it's love-it-or-hate-it Marmite!
The controversial spread has been disappearing off supermarket shelves during lockdown.
A key ingredient is brewer's yeast which became scarce when Britain's pubs shut as much less beer was being made.
Marmite producers Unilever suspended all production other than its small 250g jars which have been flying off the shelves.
But the UK's pub closure dragged on longer than expected – with the knock-on effect supplies of the legendary toast-topper dwindled.
Manufacturers said while supplies have been hit demand has soared with stay-at-home diners desperate to get hold of the spread.
Shop shelves in many parts of Britain have stayed empty forcing Marmite munchers to order on Amazon.
Last night Unilever said the re-opening of pubs across Britain – and return to work of he nation's breweries – meant yeast stocks would start to rise again.
But they admitted it could take months' for Marmite supplies to return to normal.
The problem was identified on the BBC Good Food Facebook group by Kelly Richardson, who posted: "Is anyone else struggling to get Marmite in their part of the country?
"I know it’s due to the lack of beer making etc but can’t find it in Brighton!
"Everywhere has empty shelves. I just wondered if anyone else experiencing the same?''
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Fellow Marmite lovers revealed their own tales of woe. Lauren Panther replied: "Yes in Wiltshire. I resorted to a jar from Amazon.''
Christine Twemlow, from Kent, has also resorted to ordering it online, posting: "I bought a tub of Marmite from Amazon. It’s not in the normal bottle, looks more like a catering idea. But it’s in a plastic tub.'' K
ate Renton said: "My local Sainsbury’s keeps saying not in stock, try own brand'.''
Mum-of-three Angela Walker, 48, from Co Durham, said: "You're supposed to love it or hate it. I'm not sure that's true but our household was going through a big jar a week. Then all of a sudden I just couldn't get hold of it in any of our local supermarkets, apart from Aldi's own version, which we didn't love.
"I looked online and found people were ordering it on Amazon so ours has been arriving by post now for months.''
One lover of the spread tweeted: "I need Marmite like oxygen and really need more 400g squeezy jars. Can you advise on which retailers stock those at the moment? Thank you.''
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Andy Needham, managing director of online retailer Approved Food, said the re-opening of pubs – though currently limited to just 23% of bars with beer gardens for outdoor drinking – was "fantastic news" for Marmite lovers.
"It means the hospitality sector will be able to start recovering but also production of by-products such as brewer's yeast will receive a much needed boost, allowing firms to ramp up production levels and get their products back on the shelves,'' he said.
The Greene King brewery based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said it had been only sending 20 to 30 tons of yeast per week to the Marmite factory during lockdown.
But since pubs have started re-opening it had upped supplies to 40 to 50 tons, and that will go up to 60 tons when all pubs re-open next month.
Marmite has always been seen as a British staple but was discovered by chance by German scientist Justus Liebig in the late 1800s when he realised brewer's yeast could be concentrated and eaten.
In 1902 the Marmite Food Company was founded in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffs, where the raw ingredients were readily available from the town's breweries.
The product was named after a French cooking pot because British Marmite was originally supplied in earthenware pots of a similar shape.
Since the 1920s it has been sold in its stubby jars with the iconic red and yellow labels.
A Unilever spokesman said: "We've continued to see high demand for Marmite with more people making meals at home during lockdown as well as reduced supply of yeast from the breweries that supply us.
"As pubs and hospitality begin to open up once more we expect the full range of jars to be back on supermarket shelves over the coming months.''
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