Birmingham Evening Mail

Birmingham Evening Mail (England); 2/17/2003


 Byline: CATHERINE HENDRICK Consumer Editor

THE heat is on! Two new colas are taking on the might of US giant Coca-Cola after being launched by Muslim organisations as an alternative to the famous brand.

Mecca-Cola opened its UK base in Birmingham last month after being dreamt up by French radio journalist Tawfik Mathlouthi.

It’s aimed at people who like the taste of the classic drink but don’t want to contribute to American capitalism.

Mecca-Cola, which with its white lettering on a red background echoes Coca-Cola’s famous packaging, sold 300,000 litres in its first two weeks on sale in Britain.

It costs 99p for 1.5 litres from Birmingham shops like The National Halal Centre, while Coca-Cola costs pounds 1.35 for 2 litres. Ten per cent of Mecca-Cola’s profits are promised to Palestinian causes and ten per cent to charities in Europe.

Shahid Yaqoob, marketing director of Mecca-Cola Distribution UK, says: ‘Mecca-Cola has been pilot-tested across the UK to much acclaim, which is why we decided to act as the central distribution point.

‘This is all about giving people of all cultures, not only Muslims, the chance to buy an alternative to Coca-Cola and Pepsi and to say ‘no’ to backing American imperialism.’

Now another cola drink has been launched by a Derby-based company. For every two litre bottle of Qibla Cola sold, ten per cent will go to Muslim charity organisation Islamic Aid, which specialises in delivering projects to some of the most deprived communities in the world.

Responding to the new competition, Coca-Cola’s UK director of communications, Martin Norris, says: ‘There are always competitive brands out there.

‘As a business we don’t take a position in matters of politics or religion. As far as we are concerned we are a business which is local wherever it is.

‘If you look at Palestine, we have a plant in Ramallah where we employ 200 people. I think we are one of the biggest investors in Palestine.

‘If you look at the way we are considered there, we are actually extremely popular.’



We took both Colas for a taste test on the streets of Birmingham

We hit the streets of Birmingham with Coca-Cola and Mecca-Cola for a taste test


Who? Vipin Agravat, a 35 year old health care assistant from Greet.

Did he spot

the difference? Yes.

‘There’s a real difference and I can tell that one’s the real Coke. I didn’t really like the taste of the other one.’

Who? Rashida Begum, an 18 year old student from Lozells.

Did she spot

the difference? Yes.

‘You can tell the Mecca-Cola’s not real coke. It was sweeter and a bit flat. I’d choose the real coke every time. Sorry!’

Who? Mark Hooson, a 23 year old student from Sutton Coldfield.

Did he spot

the difference? Yes.

‘You can definitely tell which is the real coke. The Mecca-Cola tasted almost aniseedy and wasn’t as sweet. I didn’t really like it.’

Who? Pamela Ewing, a 42 year old market researcher from Erdington.

Did she spot the difference? No. ‘I thought the Mecca-Cola tasted better. The other one tasted like it had lemon in it. I didn’t think it tasted like normal coke!’

Who? Richard McTiernan, a 22 year old student from Kings Heath.

Did he spot

the difference? No.

‘The Mecca-Cola was quite nice. I actually thought it tasted more like the real thing! The flavour reminded me of refreshers or some other sort of sweet.’

The Score: Coca Cola 3 Mecca-Cola 2

The Verdict: Although our test wasn’t exactly scientific, the results were close. But fans of the real Coca-Cola were able to spot the difference straight away.


TOUGH CHOICE: Rebecca Pemberton with a bottle of Coca-Cola, priced at pounds 1.35 for 2 litres, and its new rival Mecca-Cola, retailing at 99p for 1.5 litres