Yeast resistance: Marmite

Marmite is a thick, black yeast extract product. Around 25 million jars are sold every year.


Marmite was invented by German scientist Justus von Liebig (1803 – 1873) in the late nineteenth century.

The Marmite Food Extract Company was incorporated in Britain in 1902. It was headed by a retired Swiss sugar merchant called Frederick Wissler. Marmite was initially produced at Mincing Lane, London.

Marmite, as a vegetable and yeast extract, competed against the meat extracts such as Liebig’s and Bovril that were popular at the time. Marmite had the advantage of retailing for around half the price of its rivals.

Production had been relocated to a disused malt house at Cross Street in Burton upon Trent by 1906. As a centre of British brewing, Burton provided ample supplies of yeast, the principal ingredient of Marmite. Mincing Lane House, London, became the company headquarters.

The business grew rapidly, and a second factory was established at a former brewery in Camberwell Green, London, from 1907.

Marmite enjoyed a growing reputation as a health product, and it was added to soldiers’ rations during the First World War as a Vitamin B1 deficiency preventative.

Following the death of the company’s first chairman, Marmite was acquired by Bovril in 1924.

A factory was opened at Vauxhall, London, in 1927.

The Burton factory relocated to nearby Wellington Road from 1952.

The Vauxhall factory was closed in 1967.

A new £1 million factory was opened in Burton upon Trent to produce both Bovril and Marmite from 1968. The factory employed 450 people.

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company, acquired Marmite in 2000.

A less viscous version of Marmite was launched in squeezy bottles in 2006.

The Burton factory produced 25 million jars of Marmite every year as of 2015. Around 15 percent of the total is exported, mostly to former British colonies. Sri Lanka is a major market, where it is mixed into porridge.

A mixture of ale and lager yeasts are used to create Marmite. Much of the yeast is still sourced from the Molson Coors (formerly Bass) and Marston’s breweries in Burton. The automated factory employs around 60 people. Marmite is matured for seven days before distribution.

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