The Cost of Down Prices are Going Up
Due to unexpected (and frankly, unusual) events over the last while, the cost of down is on its way up again.
The first shock to hit the sports and outdoor market was in 2014 when it was announced that the Asian supply of down feathers would significantly decrease. Until recently, geese had been a staple in Asian diets and were raised for food on farms much like chicken in North America. China is the largest supplier of down feathers to the sporting goods market, so when people began to eat less goose, so did the supply of down feathers available for brands.
Even if you don’t use the feathers in your sports products, this probably inadvertently affected your business. Because of the wide popularization of goose down – think about the sudden emergence of Canada Goose, who sell more than one million jackets per year – and the lessening supply, prices of down-filled products have skyrocketed.
Now, there are reports of a second wave hitting the market. This winter, a widespread bird flu has spread across Europe. The H5N8 virus, whose origins lay in Mongolia, was first detected a few months ago in late 2016. “After speaking with government officials on the ground, it appears the situation has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks,” said a statement issued by Allied Feather & Down, the world’s largest down supplier. “Reports of new cases are now coming from several European regions including France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria.”
The virus has resulted in avian deaths across the continent, reducing industrial producers’ flock size by 25 to 60 percent.
“We want to assure our partners that all down booked for this season is secure and the prices will of course be kept. The issue is that we do not know the extent to which this can affect pricing for future seasons,” Allied continues, citing prices may surge a second time next season. Already, big outerwear brands like The North Face, Columbia Sportswear, and Land’s End say they plan to raise the prices of jackets and sleeping bags next season to account for the unexpected snafu.
“We are keeping a very close watch over this issue and will continue to report as necessary,” concludes Allied.