Popular rose-flavoured drink Rooh Afza has almost disappeared from the Indian market. Every year, Rooh Afza is widely consumed during the holy month of Ramzan, since it's a favourite drink of many Muslims after a day-long fast.
The Hamdard Laboratories, maker of Rooh Afza syrup, has released a statement, in which the company has said that the shortage of some key herbal ingredients is the reason for scarce Rooh Afza supplies. "We are facing supply constraints of certain herbal ingredients. We hope to fix the demand supply gap within a week," said Mansoor Ali, chief sales and marketing officer at Hamdard.
Even though the official stance is lack of key ingredients, there are reports the real season for the shortage in supply can be a rift in the Rooh Afza founder's family.
"There is a short supply since over four months now due to family feud. Production was stopped in November last year and resumed in mid-April," said an executive on condition of anonymity
According to reports, the great-grandson of Hamdard founder- Abdul Majeed and his cousin Hammad Ahmed are at loggerheads over the control of the company. Ahmed has reportedly filed a case against Majeed, and speculation is that the legal dispute has led to the stalling of production of Rooh Afza. However, Mansoor Ali discarded all such speculations saying: "The speculation about any rift is completely baseless. These are rumours."
Whatever the reason might be, this shortage has put Rooh Afza aficionados in a state of dismay this summer. Many of them from across the country took to social media to express their disappointment over not getting their favourite summer drink.
@kavitadutta_ wrote on Twitter: "It's a drink that takes most of us back to our childhood. Never thought there'd be a time when we would get to hear of its shortage!"
"Major crisis for Indian Muslims as there's a shortage of rooh afza. ummi even tried making homemade rooh afza because my brother won't break his fast without it(sic)," wrote one @TharannumW on the microblogging site.
Major crisis for Indian Muslims as there's a shortage of rooh afza— bibliophile 5.5💞 (@TharannumW) May 8, 2019
ummi even tried making homemade rooh afza because my brother won't break his fast without it .#RoohAfza
"#Ramzan without @RoohAfzaIndia can't imagine. my fridge waiting 4 it. #hamdard do something.even can't buy it higher price due to not deliver partner @amazonIN #RoohAfza #Amazon," tweeted @shadababe04.
#Ramzan without @RoohAfzaIndia can't imagine. my fridge waiting 4 it. #hamdard do something.even can't buy it higher price due to not deliver partner @amazonIN#RoohAfza#Amazonpic.twitter.com/WZF4lc3JYB— md shadab abedin (@shadababe04) May 7, 2019
Some got lucky though. User @Asif_OO posted an image with a box containing six bottles of Rooh Afza.
Twitter user @TheSignOfFive posted an image with a fresh made pitcher of Rooh Afza with the bottle which she got shipped from her home. "I got Ma to tote two of these all the way from home because there IS a shortage!! Summers without #RoohAfza ?! Unthinkable!!," the post read.
Interestingly, Hamdard Laboratories Waqf Pakistan has offered to supply Rooh Afza to India via Wagah border in Amritsar in view of the shortage. The Hamdard Laboratories came into existence in the early 1900s.
I got Ma to tote two of these all the way from home because there IS a shortage!!— Lavanya ಲಾವಣ್ಯ লাৱণ্যা (@TheSignOfFive) May 8, 2019
Summers without #RoohAfza ?!
(I do regret to inform fans like myself that the taste has been a tad diluted, the bottle very svelte 😔) pic.twitter.com/NNQhQi8pA5
"We can supply RoohAfza and RoohAfzaGO to India during this Ramzan. We can easily send trucks through Wahga border if permitted by Indian Government," tweeted Usama Qureshi, MD and CEO of Pakistani Hamdard.
The original Hamdard Laboratories was founded by Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed in old Delhi in 1906. The one in Pakistan was founded by his younger son Hakeem Mohammed Said, who migrated to Karachi after Partition in 1947. Later, Hamdard expanded to Bangladesh after its creation in 1971.
Hamdard India said to BusinessToday.in that their product Rooh afza is available to people across the country. In a press release Hamdard India told BusinessToday.in, "Hamdard Laboratories India, a 100-year old manufacturer of iconic Unani brands and herbal FMCG products is happy to state that the production of RoohAzfa is on at peak capacity at the factories. Due to Ramzan and peak summer season coinciding, there has been an unprecedented demand in the market."
The company further added, "Hamdard was facing supply constraints of certain herbal ingredients which were not available due to a temporary shortage. RoohAfza is now available in the market and can be bought from major retail stores and grocery outlets across the country. Full capacity production and a well-planned distribution infrastructure are ensuring it is reaching all corners of the country.'
(This story has been updated with a statement from Hamdard India)
(Edited by Mansi Jaswal)