Down is considered the platinum standard, not only as a filling for bedding like pillows and comforters, but for outerwear like jackets. Down itself is a byproduct of the poultry industry in Eastern Europe and China where their local consumers enjoy a Goose or Duck for special dinners or feasts. When the Ducks and Geese are sent to be processed the down and feathers are left and sold to aggregators who in turn will sell it to down and feather processors. The down and feathers are cleaned through a special washing and drying cycle complete with a sanitized treatment. Afterwards the down and feathers are used domestically or sold abroad to other processors for further refinement. One of the largest consumers of high end down is DOWNLITE which is one of the largest filling processors in the United States.
The actual process of separating down and feathers involves the use of an air blower that pushes the filling through a series of walls. The higher the fill power of the down the further it travels through this series of walls. Heavy or dense filling like feathers fall off in the beginning of the separating process, therefore they are typically cheaper.
Many consumers confuse down and feathers as being the same, but that is a false comparison because of the way the two fillings behave. Down is classified as down clusters that in appearance form a 360 degree ball and are very lightweight. Feathers on the other hand are flat in appearance and not only rigid but dense. Down is amazing for its ability to keep your body warm using trapped air. Feathers on the other hand are used for support in items like Feather pillows, feather beds and pillow forms.
Down filling can vary in price based on whether it is from a Goose or a Duck, and furthermore if it is ‘White' or ‘Grey'. White Goose Down is considered the best by consumers with a runner up of Grey Goose Down. White duck down is maligned by consumers on occasion because duck down has a more noticeable odor to it versus white goose down. This same species and color price and demand range covers feather fillings as well.
The price of down can range from $2 dollars from grey duck feathers to $50 per pound for 800 fill power white goose down. Down and feathers cannot be more different in feeling, usage and of course prices. The price of down is influenced by supply and demand in the world so that when climates experience extra warm temperature ranges – jackets and bedding sales go down thus demand and price. If on the other hand the weather range goes cold, or currency valuations favor a country the prices can go very high. Recently the down market has spiked to the internal demand from Chinese consumers gaining additional economic success and hence buying power. It is projected that down and feather prices will never go back to their low ranges in the 90's ever