A pre-emptive eulogy for Fanta Passion

One of the many pleasant surprises I encountered on upon arriving in Malawi last year was learning that the country’s markets stock Passion-fruit flavored Fanta, which is arguably the greatest soda in the world. I’ve always been fond of passion fruit juice, and when I discovered it came in soda form (back in 2004, in Tanzania) it was love at first sight. It doesn’t hurt that Passion Fanta mixes quite nicely with Konyagi, a Tanzanian liquor that I mainly came across in what are basically ketchup packet shots.

If last summer was a happy reunion, then this summer so far – foreshadowed by my week-long visit in April – has been a slow, painful farewell. Passion Fanta is stocked out (“finished”, in Malawian English) virtually everywhere and almost no one seems to know quite why. In Lilongwe, other than the dregs of past crates still available in a very few restaurants, it’s been relegated to the back of a single shelf at Spar:

What happened to my favorite soda? One theory advanced by a clerk at Metro Cash & Carry is that Fanta Passion sells out fast because it’s more popular than the other flavors – he said they got 100 crates of the stuff last year (that’s 2400 bottles),and it’s all gone now. While this flies in the face of basic economic theory (high demand should lead to a larger quantity traded in the market, not lead to stockouts) it’s consistent with stuff I’ve read in the past about why certain items (bananas, t-shirts that fit a regular human) always sell out first.

A major hindrance in tracking down the source of the shortage is that I’m not even sure where exactly Fanta Passion comes from. Fanta is famously obtuse about which flavors are available where, probably because most are made by local franchisees. Passion fruit flavor is, as far as I know, found only in this part of Africa; it used to be in Australia and allegedly was a promo flavor in Brazil. The bottles themselves are no help at all; they are reusable glass with no markings of an origin.

My working theory, based on conversations with wholesalers, is that Fanta Passion is being made in Tanzania and was previously imported into Malawi, a trade that was screwed up by foreign exchange shortages. The only shortcoming of this theory is that it makes no sense: Fanta Passion flowed like water last year at the height of the foreign exchange crisis, and now, with forex relatively plentiful, it’s gone. Another option is that the trade just wasn’t smart business. All flavors of Fanta sell for the same price (even now, with Passion almost extinct); why offer Passion, which costs you far more to transport to the point of sale, when the Orange flavor is made in Malawi?

10 thoughts on “A pre-emptive eulogy for Fanta Passion”

  1. Wow. That sucks. Maybe I can send you a portable soda maker like mine and some passion fruit syrup. Can you get good, fresh, clean water?

    1. Sobo Quench is thankfully still plentiful, so yes. But the problem might actually be solved – today I found a bunch at Max’s Tasty Bites in Zomba; they said they had just gotten a new delivery from Southern Bottlers. Which implies the stuff is made domestically. The mystery deepens.

  2. I’m hunting Passion Fanta found in Africa for a friend who misses it.
    I found Passion Fruit Fanta sold in Portugal… but it’s different.

    I came upon this site on line. I’ve asked if they can ship it to America.
    No response yet. http://kraze.mu/fanta/2206-fanta.html

    Does anyone know anywhere in America who sells Passion Fanta.

    I also contacted the Coca Cola store in Atlanta and asked them. No response yet.

    1. I’ve emailed them in the past and had no luck finding it outside of Malawi and Tanzania. The good news is that the last time I was in Malawi, Fanta Passion was plentiful.

  3. Hi Jason don’t suppose you ever got to the bottom of this did you I’ve been hunting to get some shipped to the UK since going to Malawi in 2013 and still no luck as saddly I’ve lost all my ties their. Tried emailing Coca-Cola but due to them franchising they have no help any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. As noted above, the Fanta Passion shortage was resolved shortly after this post. The last few times I’ve been in Malawi I’ve had no trouble finding it. So I’m pretty sure it exists over there.

      In Malawi, Fanta is currently under the umbrella of Castel/Carslberg: https://www.carlsberg.mw/
      You could try contacting them – they have phone numbers (+265 1 872 999 / +265 1 710 077 / +265 1 710 330) and an email address listed (communication@castelmalawi.com). If they are willing to ship it internationally, please let everyone know by following up here!

      1. I know exactly how you feel man! I just came back from Kenya and the one thing I knew I would miss the most is Fanta Passion. Everytime I have relatives in the U.S. going to visit the one thing I ask as a gift is some Fanta Passion!

        1. I didn’t even realize they sold Passion flavor in Kenya – that’s really good to know. This expands the number of countries where I can find it to three. šŸ™‚

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