Spread Marmite, not your arms out

“Is that a jar of yeast extract in your hand luggage, or are you just pleased to see me?”

London City Airport

Love it or hate it, there are few things that scream out ‘Great Britain’ as much as savoury spread Marmite. It’s therefore unsurprising that this by-product of the beer brewing process has been revealed as one of the most-seized foods at a UK airport.

A new study has revealed that Brits can’t live without their favourite breakfast spread when travelling abroad, with London City Airport naming it as one of the most intercepted items by security officials.

The airport says that Marmite the number one prohibited branded food item confiscated from travellers’ hand luggage, and in the top 10 overall for food items.

London City Airport
When it comes to large jars of Marmite, this security officer clearly means business

The research also found that around one in eight people (13 per cent) in the UK have had to surrender an item in their hand luggage because it didn’t meet aviation or immigration rules. I am certainly no angel; I once got my wrists slapped for trying to traffic a bottle of Orangina back from France at Charles de Gaulle.

Top 10

The most confiscated items, however, as reported in The Telegraph, are snow globes. So, as Brits rush to export copious amounts of yeast extract out of the country, our foreign friends are filling their homes with rubbish souvenirs. Bloomin’ foreigners… coming over here and stealing all our snow globes. Brexit will put a stop to that.

Also making the top 10 most commonly confiscated items at London City Airport are olive oil (!), Nutella (!!) and fluffy handcuffs (!!!). Who said the British weren’t kinky?

Regarding Marmite, it’s not just us ‘normals’ that are doing it, actual celebrities are trying to play the system too. In 2015 actor Bill Nighy was stopped at Heathrow for trying to smuggle an extra-large jar in his hand luggage. Naughty Nighy.

At London City Airport, confiscated Marmite is reassuringly donated to a local charity called Community Food Enterprises, who distribute to smaller charities in local communities.


Facts fans will be pleased to know that Marmite was invented by a German scientists called Justus von Liebig in the late 19th century. In 1902 the Marmite Food Extract Company was formed in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire and today they produce 6,000 tons of the yeast extract, which is around 50 million jars.

St John Skelton, the factory’s quality specialist and master taster of over 40 years told the Daily Mail that:

“In seven weeks, we make enough here to spread over the world’s smallest country, Vatican City. Only 15 per cent of that goes overseas; the rest is eaten right here in the UK.”

Only 15 per cent is exported!?! That might explain why Brits are so desperate to stash it in their hand luggage, fearing the possibility of going cold turkey from the breakfast spread while sunning themselves along the Costa Blanca.

I mean, it’s not like the rest of the world has incredible savoury delicacies for a British traveller to enjoy, is it? Or the fact that there are still 7.5 million jars of Marmite winging their way to stores across the world from Staffordshire every year?


However, there is some salvation for lovers of the yeast extract. With Monday 31 July 2017 expected to be London City Airport’s busiest day of the year, they’ve teamed up with Marmite, who will be swapping prohibited jars for travel-friendly miniatures at the security gate from 6am until late in the evening.


So if you find yourself in a longer queue than normal at London City Airport on that day, you can just blame the brown sticky stuff, which makes a refreshing change from ‘technical issues’ or an ‘unprecedented growth in passenger numbers’.

Furthermore, announcements such as “please allow time for any Marmite delays at the security area” may become ‘de rigueur’ as, pending the success of this first swap event, Marmite are considering rolling the initiative out to airports nationwide.

Cue conversations on the beach like this:

Holidaymaker 1: “So, why did you miss your flight?”

Holidaymaker 2: “Oh, you know, Marmite were there holding up security, swapping large jars for travel- sized 70g miniatures.”

Holidaymaker 1: “But you can buy Marmite in most supermarkets here in Spain.”

Holidaymaker 2: “Indeed. I don’t even like it. I prefer Vegemite.”

The lesson here is: leave your liquids at home. Costco-sized boxes of Yorkshire Tea are a must though.

Have you or someone you know had an iconic foodstuff confiscated at airport security? Let me know in the comments below.

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