It began from humble beginnings as a health tonic in Manchester – but now Vimto is a must-have during Ramadan in Middle Eastern households. Every year, shelves in the region are stacked with litres of the delicious cordial in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Back in 2018, it was reported that 52 million bottles of Vimto are sold each year in Saudi Arabia, with the brand also hugely popular in places like Kuwait and Dubai.
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According to Vimto they sell a massive 25 million units of cordial during the Ramadan. But what is Vimto and why is it so popular in the Middle East?
What is Vimto?
Vimto was created in Manchester by a chemist called John Noel Nichols in 1908. Nichols saw a gap in the market for a soft drink thanks to the growing teetotal social movement in that period.
The drink was made from a secret recipe containing herbs, fruits and spices and Nichols originally sold the drink as a medicinal product made to give consumers vim and strength. It’s original name was Vim Tonic but this was shortened to Vimto in 1912.
In 1919, Vimto was exported to South America. In the 1920s it was exported to British troops in India where its popularity grew even more because the taste reminded them of home.
By 1930 Vimto was being shipped from the Salford docks to over 30 countries. Today it is sold to 73 different nations.
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How did Vimto become popular in the Middle East?
2023 marks 96 years of Vimto being the drink of choice for Middle Easterners during Ramadan. The drink was introduced to the region by the Aujan family back in 1927.
In 1905 Abdulla Aujan from Bahrain and his three brothers created a company, now known as Aujan Group Holding (AGH). During their nascent years they traded in commodities such as tobacco and rice.
However, they made waves when they entered the beverage industry by securing the exclusive rights to distribute Vimto in the Middle East. Vimto has been a massive hit ever since.
It is not known exactly why Vimto is so popular during Ramadan, but many have speculated that its mixture of berry and sugars gives those who have been fasting for long hours a much needed energy boost.