Mumbai: As the US and Israeli products, especially their beverages and food outlets of popular brands, face the heat following unprecedented boycott calls emanating from almost every corner of the world to protest the Zionist state’s brutal killings in Gaza, local Indian brands offering same range of products are not only registering huge gains at home but their export inquiries too are showing a surprise and pleasant rise.
[Mecca-Cola was originally launched in France in 2002 by Tawfik Mathlouthi, Taking a cue from him, Zafar Shaikh launched his own Mecca Cola and now reaping a huge dividend due to 'Boycott Israel' calls.]
Extending support to the Palestinians, over 1900 of whom have been killed in the recent Israeli bombing in Gaza, more than a hundred hoteliers in Mumbai alone are boycotting cola drinks, including Pepsi, Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta.
Instead of these brands, once household popular, they are offering mocktails, juices and jaljeera as alternatives, and also local brands like Pinch Jeera Masala, Mecca Cola, Mecca Pinch, Mecca Lime and Sosyo, and other such Indian aerated drinks.
“We have registered a noticeable gain in ours sales, and had to work over-time to meet the demands in the last one month”, Zafar Shaikh, the Director of Pinch Bottling Company, said while talking to ummid.com.
Taking a cue from Mecca-Cola, a popular brand launched in France in 2002 by Tawfik Mathlouthi and marketed as an alternative to U.S. brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola to "pro-Muslim" consumers, Zafar Shaikh, an industrialist having a base in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, has launched some times in the same period his own Mecca-Cola, Mecca Orange, Mecca Lime along with already famous Pinch Zeera Masala and Stamina Mango Juice.
Zafar said his products are not only gaining greater acceptability especially at places like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Aurangabad, Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, but he is also receiving calls from buyers of other countries.
Interestingly, Zafar has already given a stiff challenge to Pepsi and Coca-Cola in the past ten years. Once, these multi-national companies were so afraid of Zafar’s popular picks like Mecca Cola, Mecca Lime and Stamina Mango Juice, that they resorted to dirty tactics to safeguard their monopoly in the Indian market.
“They would take away used bottles from my dealers and break them in bulk to discourage me. But, since I was already in the bottle manufacturing, I decided to replace the glass bottles with 330ml plastic bottles with an exclusive crown cap packing, and offered to customers free”, he said.
“By expansion and tricks alone we can challenge the MNCs who instead of fighting with the quality are engaged in dirty practices”, he added.
“Today the situation is such that at many places in the country including the cities like Mumbai and Pune, people refuse to take their food if they don’t find my Zeera-Masala in the hotel”, he said.
Similar in the gainers’ list are Mohsin Hajoori, MASST range of Indore-based UNO Foods, and the Big Cola, marketed by Peruvian company AJE.
Mohsin had launched his aerated drink after being inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's Swadesh movement, and with his defiance, India got its first Swadesh drink, Sosyo, whose foundation was laid in Surat in 1923 by Hajoori's brother Abbas.
Sosyo is a mixture of grape and apple cider with some ingredients imported from Germany and Italy. 50 million bottles of Sosyo are consumed every year, mainly in Surat and parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra where bottling plants are located. It is exported as far as UAE, South Africa, New Zealand, UK and USA. The exported bottles are marked as ‘An Indian Drink’ with a tri-coloured backdrop.
Sanjay Mistry, regional manager of Hajoori and Sons, which manufactures Sosyo, said, "A marginal rise of 2-5 percent in revenue is what we expect," but the actual figures will be clear if the boycott sustains.
Ritesh Sachar, general manager, UNO Foods, said though he expected to gain from the boycott he feels there are too many local players involved for anyone to singularly benefit from the situation.