Qibla Cola goes down

Some sad news I got off DeenPort this morning is that Qibla Cola, a Muslim competitor to the major cola brands, has gone into receivership. According to this BBC report, the two-year-old company blamed its collapse on “bottling and distribution problems”, despite having recently signed a deal for distribution in LIbya, and also sellling drinks in Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and Pakistan.

Living in London and visiting the Muslim areas of town pretty regularly, I can attest to their limited distribution: hardly any shops ever sold it. You couldn’t get it for love nor money most of the time. The same, in fact, goes for Mecca Cola (made by Arabs in France) and Zamzam Cola (Iranian). After a truckload of Mecca Cola was given away for free in Hyde Park during a rally, I asked every Muslim grocery on the Edgware Road if they stocked it, and none did. (I think one of them have stocked one of these brands since, but they didn’t then.)

As for Qibla Cola, I saw it in one Indian take-away in the Golborne Road, W10, for a while, then stocks ran out and they weren’t replenished (and then the take-away closed and the site was taken over by the Moroccan Grill). A Moroccan grocery, in the same street, sold two separate brands at different times, and then stopped. A grocery in Tooting did the same, and stopped both times (I asked why, and they said it didn’t sell). I picked up a few cans (can’t remember the brand) in a halaal butcher’s shop somewhere in west London. The various restaurants and cafes around town have nearly always stuck to Coke and Pepsi, and this includes places which cater primarily to Asians. They haven’t even offered Qibla, Mecca or Zamzam Cola as an option.

Is Qibla Cola’s failure the fault of business, or of the wider community? On the one hand, we have scholars warning us not to buy American products; on the other, you get Coke (Zionist Cola!) out of 2-litre bottles at religious gatherings at which quite upright Muslims are present. But even so, I can’t understand why Muslims don’t seem to bother about keeping the “green pound” inside the community, and buying perfectly good produce from fellow Muslims instead of from vast multinationals. And why cannot Muslims replicate the success of the Asian soft drinks company Rubicon, which can sell its fruit drinks in corner shops everywhere?

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