As if the ginger nut biscuit shortage earlier this year was not enough to shake the morale of the British public, last week threats were issuing from Tesco who was running dangerously low on essentials such as soap and toothpaste, as well as some of its biggest brands including Flora, PG Tips and most crucially, Marmite.
The supermarket spat came after Unilever announced that commodity prices would rise in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union earlier this year.
Government ministers admitted the move was an absolute disgrace and blamed Unilever for “using Brexit as an excuse” for price increases. It’s not the first market move which has been accused of pointing unnecessary blame at “Brexiteers”, however it certainly has been the first to strike fear amongst Britain’s Marmite lovers.
One social media user summed up attitudes around the globe in a succinct statement: “The British will tolerate a lot. But Marmite disappearing because of the Brexit pound? Get onto the streets, people.”
It wasn’t bad news for all, however. Vegemite, Marmite’s lesser-known Australian cousin, was hopeful that rising prices meant they would finally win the sales levels that for so long have been stripped from them by their more popular relative. As bad news rolled in for Marmite, on the 12th October they tweeted “@Bovril This is our moment.”
Nevertheless, Tesco and Unilever announced shortly after the initial rupture that the two had reached an agreement and that Marmite would remain on the shelves. It seems that Vegemite has not yet unlocked the secret to cracking the British market, and those who have been so quick to accuse Unilever of profiteering have been ridiculed. Market prices will rise and fall and as the pound wobbles, it is only natural that prices will adjust accordingly.
In such a time of economic uncertainty perhaps consumers will turn back to traditionally British, old-fashioned essentials. By the time Article 50 is triggered in March next year, we could be back to using carbolic soap, lard and Tetley, who knows?
What a time to be alive.