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  1. ITV Report

New Zealanders saved as 'Marmageddon' comes to an end

Back in production: Marmite labels being processed Photo: Reuters

New Zealanders have been celebrating the return of Marmite to supermarkets shelves following a year-long blackout brought on by the Christchurch earthquake.

For the Marmite-loving nation, which munches its way through 640 metric tonnes of the savoury spread each year, it is a period that will go down in history as 'Marmageddon'.

Manufacturer Sanitarium was forced to close its only factory in Christchurch the wake of the 2011 earthquake, which killed 185 people and destroyed many buildings.

"Don't freak. We will be back soon!" the company declared on its website, but within months supplies had run out and there were widespread reports of hoarding.

Prime Minister John Key was forced to take to the airwaves to reassure the nation: "I have a very small amount in my office and once that runs out I'm obviously aware that supplies are very short."

New Marmite jars back on the shelf Credit: Reuters/Andreas Manolis

As fresh supplies flooded supermarket shelves today, Sanitarium's general manager Pierre van Heerden said customers "weren't quite sure what it tastes like any more."

But he added: "The minute they taste it, their faces light up and they say 'what memories'."

The damaged factory where Marmite used to be produced Credit: Reuters

New Zealand has its own unique blend of Marmite which tastes like no other, meaning that imports of the British original could not fill the gap. The spread was originally imported from the UK, but New Zealanders have enjoyed their own special recipe since 1919.

Nearby Australia has Vegemite - also a yeast-based spread - but this is different again. At the height of the crisis, Prime Minister John Key urged New Zealanders to try it, but to no avail.