Srinagar: The shortage of summer refreshment syrup Rooh Afza is being felt badly in Kashmir markets, so much so that Patanjali is planning to reintroduce its cold beverages in the Valley.
Although Patanjali has been facing some dislike among consumers in Kashmir due to “negative publicity”, the company has decided to market its products in the Muslim-majority region with certification from India’s leading Islāmic seminary, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.
“We are gearing up for the hot summer to gain some market in Kashmir, even as we are facing some aversions due to negative publicity in the past,” said Shariq Mehraj, Senior Sales Manager, Patanjali, in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the company had already received Halal certification from Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) and it can now market food and beverage products in Kashmir.
“It will definitely help to gain some trust among people, especially when a negative perception has been created against us. Some people believe that Patanjali products are not Halal as they contain cow urine, which is not true. This has been authenticated by JUH also. Only a few products have cow urine as ingredient,” he said.
So far, nearly 122 Patanjali products especially food and beverage items have received Halal certification from JUH, as per official documents, a copy of which is with Kashmir Reader.
However, Mehraj admitted that Patanjali was unable to meet the demand in the market created by the shortage of Roof Afza, as “it is a bigger brand and has a huge market in Kashmir”.
Rooh Afza, the rose-flavoured drink is synonymous with Iftaar in Kashmir as Muslims break their daylong fast with the “soul refreshing” beverage.
According to Hamdard Laboratories, maker of the Rooh Afza syrup, its production has decreased sharply due to shortage of some herbs which are key ingredients in the product.
“We have been facing unavailability of key herbs used as raw material in the production of Rooh Afza. But the issue has been sorted two weeks ago. Now, the production is happening in full capacity and it is reaching all markets across India,” said Tanya Chaudhary, who handles Public Relations for Hamdard Labs.
Speculations have been doing rounds that a rift within the family has halted production of the drink.
“The shortage of the product has nothing to do with any dispute,” Tanya Chaudhary told Kashmir Reader.
Kashmir has been one of the main markets for Rooh Afza syrup especially during Ramadan as nearly 2 lakh bottles are consumed by people in the valley in the fasting month alone.
“The demand of Rooh Afza increases ten times in Kashmir during Ramadan,” said Farooq Ahmad Dar, Regional Business Manager Herbolife, the main distributor of Hamdard products in Kashmir.
“Nearly 10 to 20 truckloads of Rooh Afza would enter Kashmir during Ramadan alone. Now, only one truck has entered the valley so far,” he said.
Dar said that for many people in Kashmir, breaking of the fast is incomplete without Rooh Afza sharbat.
“No product can replace Rooh Afza in Kashmir as it has some special and secret ingredients. Each bottle of the syrup costs Rs 145 but still other low-cost products cannot compete with it,” he said.
Patanjali Ayurved Limited is seeing the scarcity of Rooh Afza as opportunity to reintroduce its cold beverages, especially juices and Ayuvedic-based sharbats.
“There was strong resentment earlier among the shopkeepers and people, but now it’s changing as people are getting aware of the products as they use them,” said Firdous Ahmad, a distributor of Patanjali products in Srinagar.
He said that food products like flour, oil, ghee, aloevera and amla are in high demand these days due to the high quality and low cost.
“We are now planning to distribute cold beverages like juices and other cold beverages including Aloevera juices and Gulab sharbat this summer,” Ahmad said.
“Earlier, these products had negligible sales so we stopped distributing them. The company was also not replacing these products after expiry so we wouldn’t take the risk. Now, it has agreed to replace the products, so we will start the sale again,” he added.