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Why Hamdard's Rooh Afza has gone missing from shelves

Speculations about the family rift are abuzz even as makers claim shortage of herbal ingredients as reason.

May 10, 2019 / 03:10 PM IST

Popular household drink Rooh Afza has gone missing from Indian store shelves at a time when soaring temperatures spruce up demand for the rose-flavoured sharbat. While reports blame the supply shortages on a family rift, the company has dismissed the theory.

Hamdard Laboratories (India), the manufacturer of Rooh Afza, had stopped production of the drink in November last year citing the shortage of crucial herbal ingredients, the Economic Times reported.

Update: Rooh Afza back in stores as Hamdard resumes production

The shortage has affected many, with many taking to Twitter to rue its absence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan, in which Rooh Afza is considered a staple at the Iftaar (when the day-long Ramzan fast is broken). Sales of Rooh Afza grow 25 percent during the month.

Instead, the Indian market has been flooded by Rooh Afza manufactured by Hamdard Pakistan and brought in by importers, a bottle of which costs a steep Rs 350, compared to Rs 135 for the Indian version.


Hamdard Pakistan, which does not officially export to India, has offered to export the required quantities for the Ramzan period, an NDTV report said.

Speculations about a family feud between Hamdard founder Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed’s great-grandson Abdul Majeed and Abdul Majeed’s cousin Hammad Ahmed persist, as the former has filed a case against the latter, ET reported.

But Mansoor Ali, chief sales and marketing officer at Hamdard termed these as “baseless rumours” reiterating that “unforeseen shortage” of their commonly used ingredients is the reason.

The ET report quoted Ali as saying: “We are facing supply constraints of certain herbal ingredients. We hope to fix the demand-supply gap within a week.”

Rooh Afza, which in Urdu means 'something that refreshes the soul' was created in 1908 by Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, as a herbal option to beat the Delhi heat, the NDTV report added.

Using herbs and syrups from traditional Unani medicine, it was originally introduced as a medicine to counter heat strokes, reduce palpitation and prevent water loss.

The product was turned into a drink a few decades later.

The partition brought another turn, as most of the family travelled to Pakistan and only Hakeem Abdul Hameed, and his two sons stayed. With Hakeem Abdul Hameed in India and his younger brother Hakim Mohammad Said in Pakistan, they continued the business in both countries.

Hamdard also has presence in Bangladesh.
Jocelyn Fernandes
first published: May 9, 2019 08:38 pm
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