As the UK gets into the full swing of Ramadan, businesses are busy catering to surging demand throughout the religious period. One brand in particular will fare well indeed. For decades, it’s been traditional for Arabs to wash down their iftars with Vimto, a British drink invented in 1908.
Every Ramadan, the brand’s owners, Nichols PLC, witness a huge spike in demand, according to Matt Nichols, the company’s regional manager for the Middle East. “We’ve seen a busy period for sales of Vimto Cordial across the beginning of the second quarter. Typically, 80 per cent of Vimto Cordial sales in the region are just before and during the month of Ramadan.”
“Vimto has carved a special place in the hearts and minds of generations of consumers in the Middle East, not only at the iftar table but throughout the year. While they may drink more Vimto Cordial at Ramadan, they do tend to be the same consumers all year round.”
Over the years, residents in the Gulf states too have made it a tradition to have the purple drink on the table during iftars. Vimto’s popularity has hardly gone down since it made its way into the Middle East back in 1927, when Abdulla Aujan and Brothers expanded into the beverage sector and acquired the rights to import and distribute the drink.
Well, it’s not just Vimto that is riding the wave of high Ramadan sales.
For most companies that primarily cater to a Muslim clientele, Ramadan planning has been on the calendar for many months. For instance, the luxury date company Bateel says that Ramadan is its busiest season, globally as well as in the United Kingdom. In its London stores, the company has seen a demand spike of around 50 per cent during Ramadan.
“We start the preparation and planning early on,” said Henrik Andersen, COO of Bateel, which is headquartered in the UAE. “We order goods six months in advance because we produce specially designed gift collections for this season and stock up on gourmet dates.”
“Right before Ramadan and during the first week, we get a lot of specific orders and we need additional people to handle such large volumes,” Andersen said.
According to Euromonitor, Muslims are more likely to stay at home to eat during Ramadan and celebrate with their families. This trend gives a boost to homegrown food-and-drink suppliers. Like Vimto, British supermarket food brand Haloodies and halal steak home delivery service Halalnivore have also witnessed huge spikes in demand.
Walli Datoo, founder of Halalnivore, says he noted “robust and strong demand” in the first week of Ramadan. “We made sure well in advance that we have enough stock. We spoke to our suppliers to ensure that they are ready for a surge in orders from us. […] We are also putting together Ramadan special promos and stepping up Ramadan-related food posts on our blog and social media.”
Similarly, the co-founders of Haloodies told MySalaam that they have been preparing for Ramadan for months in advance. Food entrepreneurs Imran Kausar and Noman Khawaja say they prepared for the surge by “increasing marketing spend and managing demand forecasting”.
Khawaja said that mainstream retail still doesn’t see the optimum benefits in Ramadan spending as offers currently tend to be focused on basic ambient products, such as oil and rice, rather than meat products. “Ethnic groceries can offer a much larger range of products, such as specialist cuts, high-quality dates, new juices [and] ethnic sweets, and draw the customer in with a much slicker and customer-focused offer. The supermarkets would see a real difference in demand if they broadened their ranges.”