Turkey’s Traditional Cologne Industry Witnessing Historic Boom Amid Looming Threats Of Covid-19

While Turkey’s coronavirus cases are likely to surge, there is still some good news for the nation as Turkey’s traditional cologne industry is witnessing an upward tick.

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Turkey on Friday started testing all suspicious cases against coronavirus in more cities with the arrival of 15-minute diagnosis kits from China and as the government gradually increased the number of labs to 36 from 16, the number of positive cases is likely to increase beyond the current figure of 359.

Earlier, Turkey screened with a homemade 75-minute diagnosis kit that detects the virus and focused primarily on people who came from abroad or were in touch with foreigners who recently arrived in the country and transferred thousands of people directly from airports to 14-day quarantine at hostels around the nation.

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The outbreak has so far claimed four lives in the country, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday. But just as there are two sides to every coin, Turkey’ coronavirus outbreak also has a positive and a negative story to it.

On one hand, it has slowed the country’s growth and increased economic burden as Turkey battles to contain Covid-19, but on the other hand, it has also seen a jump in the sales of its traditional cologne not just in Turkey itself but in faraway Germany too.

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As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a $15.4 billion plan to help businesses ride out the economic storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic including a set of new measures from tax cuts and payment deferrals for businesses to an increase in minimum pension payouts, Turkey’s central bank also came to rescue its economy by cutting borrowing costs by a full percentage point and announcing a series of measures to boost liquidity amid the coronavirus outbreak, pushing its interest rates adjusted for inflation near the world’s lowest.

The benchmark rate was cut to 9.75% from 10.75% at an emergency meeting, the central bank said.  Turkey’s seventh straight rate cut follows a crash in oil prices that can help mitigate its inflation and current-account woes and comes as central banks around the world roll out stimulus measures to counter the pandemic.

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But even as coronavirus pandemic has shuttered shops and battered financial markets in Turkey, sales of Turkish-made cologne are skyrocketing. And it’s not because people are worried about how they smell.

At a tiny neighbourhood in Istanbul, there is a steady stream of customers buying the cologne. They’re squeezing into the shop which has a wide array of fragrances, ranging from lemon and lime to green tea, spice and fig blossom, ranging from about $3 to $8 a bottle.

A lot of Turkish cologne brands have long been made with 80% alcohol and it’s not only because of its disinfectant properties that sales are booming but also because colognes are used in the Turkish tradition of splashing hands when arriving at or leaving someone’s home, a restaurant or elsewhere.

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Fears of the virus don’t seem to be deterring people from crowding into small shops and buying their favourite cologne. But Turkish cologne is also enjoying a spike in sales in Germany, where the threat risk from the coronavirus was recently raised from “moderate” to “high.”

Germany is home to some 3 million people of Turkish descent. A cosmetics producer near Frankfurt said he was having trouble meeting the soaring demand. He said his company had cut production on several other products to put all available resources into making cologne, working double shifts to turn out 12,000 bottles per day.