Marmite's distinctive savoury flavour and dark sticky texture have made it one of the most divisive breakfast spreads.
But should Marmite devotees always opt for the branded pot, or is it worth trying a cheaper own-label yeast extract?
In December 2021, we tested Marmite alongside four supermarket own-label yeast extract spreads from Aldi, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco. We also included Vegemite to find out how the Australian spread compares.
Our results show it’s not just Marmite that provokes strong reactions – the two top spreads scored 75%, while the lowest-rated one scored just 42%. Read on to find out which ones our tasters liked best.
It's worth trying your local supermarket yeast extract spread, especially if you're looking to cut grocery costs: cheaper Aldi and Morrisons yeast extracts beat Marmite to take first place in our tests, with other supermarket own-labels also beating Marmite on taste.
All prices correct as of January 2022.
£1.69 for 240g (70p per 100g) and £2.00 for 240g (83p per 100g)
Aldi and Morrisons were the joint champions of our taste test, tying in first place with 75%.
Both got high marks across the board. But it was their flavour that set them apart from the rest, leading them to scoop Best Buys. Our panel rated them as superior when it came to taste, with a good strength of flavour that wasn’t too salty and an easy-to-spread texture.
If you usually choose Marmite, switching to either of these could save you money. Aldi, the cheapest on test, is particularly good value at just 70p per 100g.
£1.95 for 240g (81p per 100g)
Asda’s yeast extract was another high scoring own-label that went down well with our panel.
Its flavour didn’t quite match up to Morrisons and Aldi, and just over half found it too salty, but it still beat Marmite in several categories, including aroma and texture.
And 98% said they found it easy to spread, too, so it should glide across your toast nicely.
£1.98 for 225g (88p per 100g)
If you shop at Tesco, it’s worth giving the own-label option a go. Like the other supermarket spreads we tested, it was rated better than Marmite, with tasters particularly enjoying its aroma and texture.
Although it’s the priciest own label we tested, at 88p per 100g, it still offers a small saving compared to Marmite.
£2.49 for 250g (£1 per 100g)
Marmite got a decent score overall, but tasters weren’t bowled over by it, with more than half finding it too strong in flavour and too thick. Some also found it more difficult to spread compared with the own-label options.
If you tend to stick with Marmite, our results show that it could be worth trying a cheaper own label instead – unless you prefer an extra thick and strong style of spread.
£2.19 for 220g (£1 per 100g)
Vegemite, the Australian rival to Marmite, came in last in our taste test. It had a stronger flavour and thicker texture compared with the other spreads, which our tasters weren’t big fans of.
While it may not have been to the liking of our panel, if you prefer a stronger and stickier spread, it could be right for you.
Marmite may be a household name, but do you know what goes into it?
Yeast extract spreads, of which Marmite is one, are made from concentrated yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing. This has a distinctive strong savoury taste.
As well as yeast extract, most spreads contain added salt and vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B12.
Marmite’s version also includes vegetable juice concentrate and natural flavouring, while Vegemite contains several additional ingredients including malt extract, flavour enhancer and spice extract.
Yeast extract spreads are usually suitable for vegetarians and vegans, though make sure to double check the ingredients before buying.
Yeast extract spreads pack a punch on the nutrient front, but they are also high in salt.
All the spreads we tested contain more than 1.5g salt per 100g (which puts them in the 'high' category). Tesco Yeast Extract has the least salt (7.5g per 100g), while Marmite has the most (10.8g per 100g).
If you want to try a lower salt alternative, there are a couple around:
To ensure all the products were comparable, we didn’t include reduced salt versions in our taste test.
Yeast extract spreads also have added vitamins, such as vitamin B12, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin and niacin. Most contribute between a quarter to a half of your daily vitamin intake with one serving, though it can be lower.
Aldi’s Yeast Extract is particularly high in folic acid, with one serving containing 264µg of folic acid – 132% of the daily recommended amount.*.Marmite is higher in vitamin B12 than others we tested – one serving contains 0.95µg, which is 63% of the daily recommended amount*.
*The NHS recommends adults need 200µg of folic acid and 1.5µg of vitamin B12 a day.
The products were assessed by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume yeast extract spread.
Each yeast extract spread was assessed by 60 people, and the make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.
The products were served on toast. Panellists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each product and told us what they liked and disliked about each one.
The taste test was blind, so the tasters didn’t know which brand they were trying. The order they sampled the yeast extract spread was fully rotated to avoid any bias.
Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others.
The overall score is based on:
Glass jars can usually go in your household recycling bin. Make sure to give the jar a quick rinse and put the lid back on to reduce the chance of it getting lost during the sorting process.
You can also sterilise jars and reuse them for storing other foods.
Most yeast extract spreads come in glass jars with plastic lids, though some may also have a plastic jar, which can usually be recycled.