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Avian Flu lowers feather and down supplies

NEW YORK — U.S. suppliers of feather and down said it is still too early to assess the impact the avian flu on the main duck and goose populations of Southeast Asia.

Price increases will continue and product shortfalls could result from a potentially decreased supply of waterfowl, said suppliers.

The U.S. government last week banned the importation of birds and bird products from eight Southeast Asia nations, including China. However, finished product containing feathers will be allowed into the country so long as the feathers have been sterilized and certified.

For several days prior to the ban, the Chinese government had already ordered 10 provinces to stop exporting washed down products and finished goods. By the end of the week, that prohibition had been lifted.

"I think the fears that everyone had about there being a total blockade of products coming into the U.S. have been calmed by this news," said Wilford Lieber, president of the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory and Institute in Salt Lake City.

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