The Council of Agriculture said on Wednesday that it is implementing a Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS) logo for down jackets and other types of down garments starting next year so that consumers can better discern genuine products from apparel made of other materials.
Taiwan is the world’s third-largest exporter of processed down products, the council said, adding that the nation’s exports of processed down products each year is equivalent to three times the weight of the Tokyo Tower.
Down, an excellent thermal insulator and padding material, is the layer of fluffy feathers found underneath the outer feathers of ducks, geese and other species of bird.
As there are no current standardization regulations, the council is to institute a CAS logo for domestic production of down garments. The CAS logo represents government certification of premium agricultural produce and related products.
Under the program, down content has to be at least 70 percent for the product to receive a CAS logo, so consumers are able to tell which garments are genuine “down.”
Chiang Wen-chuan (江文全), a section chief at the council’s Department of Animal Industry, said that under current certification, garments containing between 20 percent and 90 percent down can be labeled “down products.”
However, most producers agree that only garments with more than 70 percent down should be labeled “down products.”
Chiang said CAS certification would stipulate down content between 70 percent and 95 percent. Therefore consumers will be able to rely on the CAS logo to avoid buying fake down products.
Council data showed that Taiwanese down processing companies import raw down from foreign sources. The down is then sorted, rinsed and dried, before being sorted by weight and shape, and being exported as high-grade down.
Council statistics show that the nation imported 20,000 tonnes of down and other feathered material last year and exported 1.2 tonnes. The import value of down and other feathered material last year was NT$4.38 billion (US$150 million) and exports totaled NT$6.84 billion.
Domestic production of down is at about 2,300 tonnes a year, about 20 percent of processed down used in the nation.
Council officials said domestic down producers have an advantage as down can be transported to factories within a “golden window” of 24 hours, for the initial washing and rising process. Down processed within the window maintains its freshness, preventing the onset of mold growth. It therefore produces a better insulator which has a longer storage period.
Many of the down jackets and beddings on the market are a mix of down and “plumage,” Chiang said.
Plumage is the fine silky material made from the remains of feathers after the shaft has been removed and the rest crushed.
There is a big difference between the insulating properties of down and plumage. The price of raw down is between NT$2,000 and NT$3,500 per kilogram, so for a down jacket, the down content would cost at least NT$2,000.
If the jacket is too cheap to be true, for example less than NT$1,000, consumers should question whether it is a genuine down product, he said.