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The Marmite Story
100 Year Centenary - Happy Birthday Marmite!

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In 1902, the same year as the coronation of Edward VII, the Marmite Food Extract Company Limited started its life as a public company and national institution. Having negotiated the acquisition of the patents for health-giving yeast extract, the directors set up a small factory in Burton-on-Trent, centre of the British brewing industry where the all important yeast was readily available.

Although the first experimental extracts were made in November 1902, it took a couple of years to perfect the recipe. Even so, the MARMITE brand was awarded two gold medals in 1903, one at the Universal Food and Cookery Exhibition and the other at the Grocery Exhibition. The popularity of MARMITE yeast grew steadily, necessitating in 1907 the establishment of a new factory at Camberwell Green, London. By the outbreak of the First World War, MARMITE was an established brand, recognized for its nutritious properties. It was thus ideal for the troops serving overseas in combating the outbreak of beri-beri and other deficiency diseases prevalent in such places as Mesopotamia.

MARMITE has been sold in small earthenware pots from the outset, but towards the end of the 1920's plans were drawn up to switch to glass jars with metal lids. Why the now familiar shape of jar was chosen is not known, but it certainly added a distinctive appearance to accompany the distinctive taste of MARMITE. Although the shape of the label had to be adapted to the new jars, the overall format of design continues with few modifications. In fact even the original simmering stew pot remains on the label to this day. There was a major advertising campaign during the 1930's to promote MARMITE further. Central to this promotion was the use of characters whose faces incorporated the word "good". This theme was used on giant hoarding posters and display cards for shop windows, on brochures, recipe books and even paper bags.

By this time there was a growing recognition and awareness of vitamins. In the case of MARMITE, it was discovered that the richest source of B group vitamins is brewer's yeast, the basic raw material in MARMITE. Promotions talked about "A small quantity added to the daily diet will ensure that you and your family are taking sufficient Vitamin B to keep nerves, brain and digestion in proper working order" It was also during the 1930's that MARMITE cubes were first launched (and re-launched in 1996). At the outbreak of the Second World War, the MARMITE brand again went into battle, and on the home front housewives were encourages to spread MARMITE thinly and to 'use it sparingly just now'.

By the 1950's, after 50 years of selling MARMITE, the company was justly able to claim that it was a product handed down from generation to generation. The advertising theme at this time focused on the benefits for children. In 1974 there was a shortage of the familiar glass jar and thus for a short time MARMITE was sold in more standard shaped jars. By now MARMITE had reached cult status, aptly recognized by the outcry when the jar lid was upgraded from metal to plastic in 1984. Many devotees of MARMITE felt the need to keep the old jars and lids or replace the new plastic lids with the old metal ones.

Of course the true fanatics take their MARMITE away with them if holidaying abroad. It was in the 1980's that MY MATE MARMITE advertising campaign was launched.


THE MARKET

When it comes to sales, the UK savoury spreads market is a veritable feast! The increasing tendency to take a packed lunch to work or school has given rise to the tremendous popularity of the sandwich. One important sector of the savoury spreads and sandwich fillings market is meat and vegetable extract pastes - valued for their health goodness and distinctive taste, popular on toast, in sandwiches, as a hot drink or flavoursome additive to stews and soups. UK sales of meat and vegetable extract pastes amount to 34,466,000 million pounds on a moving annual total basis. This market is dominated by MARMITE yeast extract (a vegetable extract paste), which took an estimated 23,353,000 million pound share by value on a moving annual total basis, with BOVRIL, a meat extract paste taking 8,424,000 pounds.

ACHIEVEMENTS

With sales topping 23.5 million, MARMITE is one of the UK's most popular savoury spreads, dominating the meat and vegetable extract market. Heralded for its nutritional content and unique taste, MARMITE is enjoyed by all members of the family. In 1995, household penetration was up 0.4% on 1994 reaching 24.3%.

HISTORY

The basic raw material used in the manufacture of MARMITE is spent brewer's yeast, a substance whose original and only use was to ferment sugars into alcohol. For many years this by-product of the brewing process was seen as a nuisance rather than potentially valuable food source. However in 1680, a Dutch scientist, Leouwenhoek, examined this yeast under a microscope and saw that it was composed of tiny spherical and ovoid cells. The French scientist, Louis Pasteur, realised that these cells were in fact living plants. Further investigation by a German chemist, Leibig, found that this yeast could be made into a concentrated food product, which resembled extract of meat in appearance, smell and colour, however was vegetarian.

A number of people tried to manufacture this yeast extract for commercial purposes, but with little success. This changed in 1902, when the Marmite Food Company Limited, was formed. This company was committed to producing a perfected form of yeast extract for popular consumption. They rented a disused malt house in Burton-on-Trent for the modest sum of 100.00 pounds a year and set to work.

However, it was found that the yeast they were producing from British beer did not lend itself to the same treatment of continental yeast where methods of fermentation were markedly different. New machinery had to be brought in and a series of changes in the manufacturing process were implemented before a satisfactory yeast extract product was ready to market.

It took time to bowl over the British public with the distinctive taste of MARMITE. Gradually however, the business expanded. The freehold of the malt house was purchased and operations were extended to meet growing demand. Eventually a second site was obtained in London, and the company consolidated production at a new green field site at Burton-on-Trent.

The discovery of vitamins in 1912, boosted the popularity of MARMITE, when it was realised that yeast provided a good source of five B vitamins. Its healthy proposition meant that greater quantities of MARMITE were consumed in hospitals, schools and institutions, with tons dispatched to war-torn counties overseas. During both the World Wars, MARMITE was served to soldiers on military duty and was used to combat outbreaks of beri-beri and other diseases. During the Second World War, MARMITE became a valued dietary supplement in prisoner-of-war camps.

Both the MARMITE product and packaging have undergone few changes since the turn of the century. MARMITE stock cubes were launched in a distinctive green tin during the 1920's, but this brand extension was eventually dropped to concentrate on the increasingly popular paste product.

Since 1934, following the death of the first chairman of the company that produced MARMITE, both the MARMITE and BOVRIL brands have enjoyed a close association, leading to Marmite Limited becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bovril Limited. Further changes of ownership ensued and in 1990, CPC (United Kingdom) Limited took over both the BOVRIL and MARMITE brands.

THE PRODUCT

MARMITE is a concentrated yeast paste, enjoyed at any time of the day, whether on toast for breakfast, in sandwiches at lunchtime or as an added ingredient in stews and casseroles.

MARMITE is 100% vegetarian, but unlike some vegetarian meals, MARMITE provides an excellent source of vitamin B 12. This vitamin helps to prevent anaemia. It also contains a good source of Riboflavin and Niacin as well as an excellent source of Follic Acid.

MARMITE is good news for the nation's slimmer's. It contains virtually no fat or sugar. A single 4g serving amounts to only 8 kcal/35 kJ typical values. Spread on toast with butter this comes to 145 kcal (704 kJ), although skipping the butter cuts the calorie count down to 72 kcal (350 kJ).

Although MARMITE has a salty taste, there is more salt in the bread and butter on which the MARMITE is spread than in the MARMITE itself.

MARMITE has a distinctive savoury taste, unlike anything else. It remains a popular food for all the family, loved equally by the toddler through to the Grandpa. Over the years, other companies have taken the basic raw materials used in producing MARMITE and infused its special taste into other products, resulting in such delights as muffins flavoured with MARMITE yeast extract and cheese flavoured with MARMITE.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Since taking over the brand in 1990, CPC (United Kingdom) Limited (name changed in 1998 to Best Foods Inc)continued to vigorously support MARMITE - a 4 million pound promotional budget in 1996 alone, for example - has looked to extend the brand further. Although formerly abandoned, MARMITE stock cubes are a bright idea from the past which have made a come-back. In addition to its more common role as a nutritional, savoury spread, MARMITE is being positioned as a cooking ingredient.

PROMOTION

Early advertising emphasized the nutritional value of MARMITE. Poster advertisements used the 'Good for You' slogan. The product's versatility, as a savoury spread, cooking ingredient and even a drink, has also been highlighted in promotions.

More recently, advertising has focused on the intrinsic family values of MARMITE as a good source of five B vitamins with a great taste. The current advertising slogan reads: 'Nothing tastes quite like "MY MATE MARMITE"'.

Advertising, targets mothers with babies over six months of age (who are particularly partial to MARMITE as a weaning food) and adults aged 20 to 44 years old. Pregnant women are also an important market. Through a combination of television and press advertising, editorial, sampling and educational leaflets, the makers of MARMITE drive home the message that MARMITE contains vitamins such as Riboflavin, Niacin and Follic Acid, which helps prevent spina bifida in unborn babies. In fact, four slices of bread and MARMITE a day provide a pregnant woman with all the Follic Acid she needs.

BRAND VALUES

The chief proposition of MARMITE is that it is a nutritious, tasty savoury spread, enjoyable on toast or bread or even as a cooking ingredient. Being 100% vegetarian and containing useful vitamins, MARMITE is valued for its goodness, as a reliable part of the everyday family diet. In troubled times, when a decent, well-balanced meal is hard to come by, MARMITE has been viewed as an essential food supplement.

It could even be said that Britain has been weaned on MARMITE. Mothers recognize the nutritional qualities of MARMITE yeast extract, and babies love it! With a health- giving legacy and delicious flavour, MARMITE really is "MY MATE MARMITE".

Nutritional Values of Marmite
Serving per 100g per 4g
Energy 996KJ/234kcal 39KJ/9kcal
Protein 43.0g 1.7g
Carbohydrate 14.8g (of which sugar = 2.7g) 0.6g (of which sugar = 0.1g)
Fat 0.4g (of which saturates = 0.1g) trace (of which saturates = trace)
Fibre 2.6g 0.1g
Sodium 4.5g 0.2g
Thiamin 5.8g (414% RDA) 0.23mg (16.6% RDA)
Riboflavin 7.0g (438% RDA) 0.28mg (17.5% RDA)
Niacin 160.0mg (889% RDA) 5.4mg (35.6% RDA)
Folic Acid 2500ug (1250% RDA) 100ug (50.0% RDA)
Vitamin B12 15.0ug (1500% RDA) 0.5ug (60.0% RDA)

Is Marmite Kosher?

Marmite yeast extract spread has been listed in the Really Jewish Guide for some time as suitable for a Kosher diet, but with the status of 'not manufactured under Rabbinical supervision'. This listing resulted from Bestfoods UK Ltd supplying details of the manufacturing process and the ingredients used to the London Beth Din.

Marmite spread is made on a dedicated plant from ingredients which would be acceptable for a Kosher diet, is of totally vegetarian origin and is approved by the Vegetarian Society.

The plant has had a number of Rabbinical visits over the years in relation to the possibility of producing a fully supervised product. This has never progressed, largely because of a sticking point relating to the heating pipework which circulates around the factory.

This pipework supplies indirect heating to the cooking vessels for both Marmite spread and also for Bovril drinks but the water circulating through the pipes does not come into contact with either product. It's a fully sealed system, and indeed has to be, for a variety of reasons not related to Kosher status.

We have not made any alterations to the recipe for Marmite spread or the nature of the manufacturing process which might affect its Kosher status. What seems to have changed is the interpretation of the rules, resulting from an informal re-assessment by the London Beth Din of the way in which Marmite spread has always been made.

In essence, the answer to the question of whether or not Marmite spread is Kosher depends on the degree of orthodoxy and adherence to the strict dietary laws governing Kosher lifestyle adopted by the individual.

If you have any questions about this wonderful product please email us now!

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