A soft drinks producer has seen a 39 per cent rise in profits thanks to an increase in Middle Eastern demand for Vimto fruit squash in the run-up to Ramadan.

The fruit drink popular with British children is increasingly used by fasting Muslims as an energy-boosting tonic for the annual festival. Sales have increased 17 per cent to £44.2m and Nichols, which owns the brand, said this year's profits – thus far standing at £6m before tax – would be "significantly" better than last. The early start to Ramadan, due to begin on 11 August, has seen Nichols ship more Vimto in the first half of 2010 than the correspionding period last year. But the company admitted that the current rate of growth would not be sustained as sales after Ramadan are expected to fall. The drink is sold in more conservative packaging and is slightly stronger in the Middle East. It is popular before the annual monthly fast because it gives an energy boost; the prefix "vim" comes from the Latin "vis", meaning "strength", "energy" or "force".