Vimto, the purple fruit drink, is set for a surge in sales this Ramadan with local franchise holder Aujan Industries expecting 25 million bottles to be sold during the religious month.
More than half of annual sales for the cordial, which is popular with fasting Muslims as an energy-boosting tonic, are sold in the eight-weeks before, during and after the Holy month.
“A lot of people buy in bulk to cover the whole Ramadan period,” said Kadir Gunduz, CEO and president of drinks firm Aujan Industries. “We sell more than 25 million bottles of Vimto across the Middle East [during the Holy month].”
UK soft drinks group Nichols, the makers of the cordial, last year posed a 39 percent rise in profits on the back of a surge of pre-Ramadan shipments to the Middle East.
The region is by far the company’s largest export market, where the drink is sold in a slightly stronger version of the concentrate sold in the UK.
“We have seen double-digit growth for our Vimto brand over the last few years,” Gunduz said.
The Saudi-based company said this month it had invested in a multimillion-riyal advertising campaign to ramp up sales as Ramadan approaches.
Buyers of the drink in Saudi Arabia said demand last year was so high that some stores began restricting sales to shoppers to try to keep pace with supply.
“Last year in Saudi Arabia, shops restricted sales to three bottles per shopper to meet the increasing demands,” said Mohammed Maameri from Riyadh.
“Many Muslims visit Mecca during Ramadan and you see everyone drinking Vimto.”
“Vimto managed a long time ago to become associated with fasting,” said Saudi-based Tariq Al Alsiri. “It’s something related to the Saudi culture and the GCC in general.”
Aujan, the Gulf’s largest private drinks company, said in February it is on track to meet its 2012 target of $1bn in sales and planned to invest more than $100m in upgrading its distribution network and ramping up capacity by 40 percent.
The company plans to add a fourth plant by 2013.