Traditional Turkish cologne exports skyrocketed in 2020 amid COVID-19

Turkey's traditional cologne exports tripled in 2020 thanks to its signature hand disinfectant, a powerful tool used by many to ward off the threat of coronavirus.

Turkey exported 6.9 million tons of cologne last year, up from 2.4 million in 2019, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency from the Istanbul Chemical and Chemical Products Exporters' Association (IKMIB).

A deep-rooted custom of Turkish hospitality, cologne (kolonya) gained popularity for its refreshing scent as well as its high alcohol content, which can kill off more than 80% of germs.

The country reaped $28.3 million through cologne exports in 2020, more than three times the $9.1 million it earned in 2019, according to IKMIB data.

Germany, the Netherlands, Iraq, the U.S., and U.K. were the top recipient of Turkish traditional cologne exports, with a 60% total share last year.

Turkish cologne exports to Germany skyrocketed 492%, amounting to $7.8 million in 2020, while leaping 491% to the Netherlands, 291% to Iraq, 246% to the UK, and 146% to the US

In Turkish tradition, cologne is offered as a refreshing fragrance in various social situations: after a haircut, on a bus ride, after a trip, when guests arrive, or when visiting a sick friend.

More demand from existing buyers, new markets added

Engin Tuncer, the owner of leading Turkish cologne producer Eyup Sabri Tuncer, said that despite virus-related glitches in logistics and supply chains, production and trading of cologne went on uninterrupted.

Stressing that last year the benefits of hygiene and disinfectant products grew clearer, Tuncer said Turkish cologne producers boosted their presence and recognition abroad.

"During the pandemic, we got great demand...

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