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The unexpected Brexit-based Marmite twist – you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it

4 min read

13 October 2016

Former special projects journalist

This week, as the pound has rocketed even lower, we experienced a strange side-effect of Brexit that I don’t think anybody predicted back in June – Marmite has become slightly more difficult to get hold of.

Many people I have spoken to have experienced at least one knock-on effect of the EU referendum result – namely, less spending money on holidays over the summer when the pound took a bit of a hit. But now a national treasure, Marmite, has become a victim.

This week, as the pound has rocketed even lower, we experienced a strange side-effect of Brexit that I don’t think anybody predicted back in June – and with that Marmite has become slightly more difficult to get hold of.

Tesco is no longer stocking some household goods on its website after a falling out with Unilever. Unilever argues the prices should be raised to cover a drop in profits which has occurred due to the weak pound.

It’s an unusual move, but speaking to the BBC, Bruno Monteyne, an analyst at Berntein, pointed out: “The scale of the negotiation is much bigger than usual, but so is the event. Brexit-sized events are rare.
“This is such a large event that it may simply be that the two gorillas on both sides have decided to go through the motions of the negotiation on behalf of the industry. This isn’t about Tesco or Unilever but about all UK retailers and suppliers.”

Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight, former head of Northern Foods, Lord Haskins, claimed that Unilever was “undoubtedly” justified in its action, and it remains to be seen which other supermarkets follow Tesco’s lead.

According to Graeme Pitkethly, Unilever’s CFO, the price increases the company is passing on are lower than the impact on its own profitability. He expects the situation to be resolved quickly, but that hasn’t stopped a Twitter storm from brewing:

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Many were predicting that #MarmiteGate is just the tip of the iceberg, and that we can expect troubling times ahead for many of our favourite brands…. mainly tea and biscuits.

However #MarmiteGate is eventually resolved, there is likely to be more Brexit fallout and many more related hashtag trends in the years to follow.

You can find a full list of the Unilever items in peril here.