Prices for natural down have gone up recently, due to various factors. While admitting that it is always possible that prices may decline after booking, Allied Feathers & Down is recommending earlier planning for down usage to promote greater pricing stability and a fixed price guarantee for the entire season.

The leading down supplier noted in its Spring 2018 Market Report, which has just come out, that the demand for down products has experienced a late-season increase, following a relatively cold winter season in the U.S., with many large international buyers placing late orders. In China's new garment production season, earlier purchases have also been made for its domestic market.

As a result, prices have moved up significantly in recent weeks, both for duck and goose, with duck showing the largest price increase in three years. This is also because the quantities available from slaughterhouses have been steadily decreasing since early March, especially from European farms.

As previously reported, Allied noted at the end of last year that a threat of bird flu had reduced the available European supply. Many goose farmers experienced a tremendous loss due to the widespread flu epidemic. In the European Union, infected mother birds are being culled in order to stop the spread of the avian flu, and this will lead to a drop in the supply over the coming season. In China, on the other hand, it seems that the bird flu has only affected chickens.

Another major contributing factor for higher pricing of down continues to be its increasing usage in home textiles. Particularly in the U.S. and China, the demand for its use in bedding has grown tremendously, says the report, leading to rising competition. Many large programs in the sector were placed when prices were very low, leading some suppliers to scramble to fulfill the related orders quickly, before prices went up.

Allied says it continues to seek pricing at historic averages. While it is very hard to predict short-term pricing movements, the company says it hopes that bird flu concerns will go away as the industry moves into summer, but it seems likely that there will be no relaxation in pricing until the end of this year at the earliest.