Good news for Marmite fans

Marmite lovers can breathe a sigh of relief with the news that Sanitarium's earthquake-damaged Christchurch factory should be given the all-clear by Christmas.

Marmite has been in short supply since the Papanui plant was shut down by the Canterbury earthquakes, with the situation being dubbed "Marmageddon".

Christchurch City Council building inspectors were at the site today to see whether it could get a code of compliance, and determined one could be issued by Christmas.

Building operations unit manager Ethan Stetson said there was an issue with an unfinished lift, which would not be completed until 2013.

However, the council was endeavouring to work around this and would handle the lift as its own distinct consent.

"This allows Sanitarium to focus on the most critical work to get the factory back up and running. The lift works will be handled in the new year," he said.

"At this time we expect to be able to issue a code compliance certificate before Christmas, enabling access to the factory."

Sanitarium said on its website that council approval would allow it to start reviewing the functionality of the plant.

"This entails running water through the production pipes to check the seals and pipes to ensure the functionality of each part of the plant. We will then pump some bulk stock through to make sure that it functions well and correct any small issues that may come up.

"If all goes well, we can then start making bulk stock. Once we have enough bulk stock, it then has to be blended to achieve our unique Marmite flavour that Kiwis love. The next step will be to pack stock to get Marmite back on shelf."

Since the closure of the factory in November last year, the Marmite Facebook page has attracted 964,000 likes and the situation has attracted global media attention.

In response, Sanitarium began a "Don't Freak" campaign, including ads fronted by former All Black coach Graham Henry.

Although Marmite has been off the shelves for months, 2000 jars of British Marmite remain under lock and key after being confiscated by Customs because Sanitarium claims to own the name.

Importer Rob Savage is seeking to get his shipment back and the case is expected to go to the High Court early next year.


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