Following the announcement of a boycott of all companies with "Zionist" connections, Iranian authorities are asking for some answers from a local soft drink company.
According to Iranian reports, Minister of Industry and Mines Ali Akbar Mehragian summoned the directors of Iranian company Khoshgovar for a hearing in order to get a better grasp on the nature of their relationship with the American Coca Cola Company.
Khoshgovar operates under license and produces soft drinks in Iran including Coca Cola, Fanta, and Sprite. The Iranian company pays some $1.5 million dollars a year for the license to use the Coca Cola brand name.
According to the Khoshgovar, the company obtains its taste ingredients from a company in Ireland.
Khoshgovar directors have declared that they have no direct ties with the global Coca Cola Company and never will. It is of note that the Iranian Ministry of Industry recently announced that the Irish company passes off about 150,000 euro (roughly $194,000) of its yearly revenues to the Coca Cola Company, at which point the money is transferred to "the Zionist entity."
Coca Cola's dealings in Iran were nationalized immediately after the fall of the Shah. Ever since, local alternatives to Coke have flourished, most notably Zam Zam and Sassan, which dominate the local cola market in Iran. An Islamic alternative to Coca Cola - Mecca Cola - is also marketed in the country.
The current campaign against Coca Cola in Iran was accelerated by the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip.
According to Iranian sources, other companies, such as Nestle, Pepsi, and Benneton are also in the administration's line of fire. Even before the onset of the Israeli operation in Gaza, a Benetton store was set on fire in protest against the embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Some two weeks ago, the Iranian Foreign Ministry formed a special committee commissioned with making a "black list" of local companies that have ties with Israel through third-party foreign companies.
In a demonstration held in Tehran on Friday, posters against Coca Cola and Pepsi were brandished, on many of which it was written "The Zionists control the soft drink industry."
Dr. Gil Feiler is founder and managing director of Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd , and Doron Peskin is head of research