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December 7, 2009

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Price of feather and down recovers on strong demand

THE price of raw feather and down products in China has rebounded to the level at the beginning of 2008 after touching a five-year low during the global economic slowdown.

"The drastic price plunge devalued my stocks of 90,000 tons by 100,000 yuan (US$14,639) in a week at the worst time this year," said Li Fangyi, a duck and goose feather and down supplier in Wuwei County, east China's Anhui Province.

The county, which produces 70 percent of China's supply of feather and down products, makes more than 1 billion yuan from raising poultry and processing feathers every year.

Li's factory purchases raw feathers and down from local farmers, and mainly supplies Wanlida Co, a big Chinese feather and down products manufacturer. He said he lost 7 million yuan during the recession in the global market.

The bankruptcies of upstream garment makers and canceled orders forced Wanlida to close its factory in Xiaoshan in Zhejiang Province and cut production at its Anhui factory.

Wanlida's major client, United States-based Pacific Coast Feather Co, abruptly canceled a 120 million yuan order placed in August.

"The losses were almost my life-time savings. I started door to door feather collection at the age of 12. When the price fell to a five-year low in the first half of this year, I thought I could only start all over again from the bottom," said Li, 39.

Luckily, the price started to climb in the third quarter, and Li has just several new orders for 250 tons of feather and down products.

"The county government has exempted feather businesses from a series of taxes and fees, and helped us obtain low-interest loans to revive the industry," he said.

He is optimistic about the future of his business, and believes the recovery will lead to a boom that would last for at least three years.

"There is a strong demand for feather and down products in the world market. People in Western countries particularly favor feather and down quilt and clothes," he said.

Ji Jianhua, a goose farmer in the county, said he has planned to increase his flock of geese from 1,300 to 4,000 as the demand for feathers and down surged again.

China produces 80 percent of the world's supply of down and feathers, of which 90 percent are from ducks and 10 percent from geese. Industry sales hit US$1.88 billion, according to data from the China Feather and Down Industrial Association.


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