Down and feather prices were high before the current avian flu episode, but the avian flu problem caused a major and immediate spike in prices as flocks of ducks and geese were culled and some suppliers held on to feather stock, according to officials and the International Down and Feather Laboratory. The price of 90/10 White Duck Down has already risen by 60%+ since March 2013, according to the China Feather and Down Industrial Association (CFDIA). Supplies will be extremely tight for the next few months.
Some shipments may be delayed, as some countries may temporarily ban raw bulk down and feathers, says IDFL. Other countries may require additional documentation and/or cleanliness certifications. Finished products do not have any government bans or restrictions. All of the delays should be temporary.
Because of the general shortage of material before bird flu, some suppliers do not have the needed down supply.
Of course, down and feather products are safe. Down and feather finished products have never had any risk due to the flu, says IDFL. Down and feathers do not provide a live host for the virus. Down and feathers are cleaned at 120°C for 30 minutes. Any of the 30+ strains of bird flu or other viruses are destroyed at a much lower temperature in just a few minutes.
What is the future prognosis for the situation? “Governments in Asia are reacting swiftly to isolate the human risk and re-start poultry production in affected areas as soon as possible,” says IDFL. “Chinese poultry consumption has dropped temporarily. Most experts believe the situation will be normalized by summer.”
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