Swedish furniture giant Ikea is phasing out its Mysa-brand down bedding from all its shops - because the down may come from Chinese fowl which were plucked while the animals were still alive. China produces 80% of the world's down and feathers.
Ikea told animal-rights organisation Wakker Dier in The Netherlands on February 17 that Swedish researchers discovered the cruel practice and warned that its goose-down bedding could also contain these cruelty-driven products. The Chinese down-traders are livid - denying that the practice is widespread.
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 1.88 billion U.S. dollars last year, according to the CFDIA data.
Wakker Dier said it had asked Ikea to take steps to phase the product from their shops - and the company acknowledged the veracity of the research. see
They are also setting up a new tracing system which will allow them to ban trading partners found guilty of animal-rights abuses like this, they said.
Wakker Dier wants a total ban on the trade of goose down products which were plucked from living animals and an inspectorate label should be introduced too, it said.
In 2008 the Dutch trade ministry refused to take steps against importing such down, saying the 'problem rarely occurred in North Western Europe'. However live-plucking is a traditional activity in Hungary and Poland -- where the geese are plucked 3-4 times a year. Feathers from live animals are considered better quality. see
Chinese feather and down makers voiced their indignation over what they say are "untruthful" report by Swedish media TV4 about the wide practice of live-plucking of geese and ducks in China. They claimed 'only a very small number of such cases should not distort the entire industry."
"We have never conducted live-plucking, and will not do that forever," Ni Yijun, General Manager of the Sichuan Duying Trading Company, a down supplier of the Swedish furniture chain IKEA, who was named by the TV show told Xinhua on Saturday. "I can tell you that 99 percent of the Chinese makers are not engaged in that business. A very small number of such cases should not affect the whole industry," he said.
His company was badly hit by the TV coverage as IKEA recalled the bedding products made by the company and canceled orders.
"Live-plucking is only feasible in one to three percent of the goose down products for expensive Japanese bedding and outwear products. That means a maximum of 0.3 percent of the total supply," said Yao Xiaoman, vice chairman of the China Feather and Down Industrial Association (CFDIA).
"Live-plucking is so costly that it is not economic to sell such products to markets that do not explicitly demand them," Yao said. "The Swedish correspondent, posing as a foreign business man, came to me and asked whether we do live-plucking. I thought it was better to secure this buyer first, although we had never done that business," said Hu Zhengnan, a factory staff who met with the Swedish reporter in the program.
"Fierce competition has forced Chinese feather and down producers, hard hit by the global financial crisis, to race for business, as they may lie to the foreign buyers who came to them even if they do not do that business," said Yao Xiaoman.
The program, "Cold Facts", called on European animal-rights supporters to shun these live-plucked down and feather products.
"Many producers have called the association and expressed their anger, fearing the chain reaction produced by the untruthful report would deal a heavy blow to the exporters who have already felt the pinch of the global financial crisis, " said Yao. "We reserve the rights to bring suit against the TV4," Ni Yijun said.
He noted live-plucking could be rooted out in China if all producers acted unanimously under the guidance of the CFDIA. United efforts were needed to pledge against any live-plucking and protect animal rights in China.
Wilford Lieber, president of the International Down and Feather Laboratory and Institute (IDFL), a testing and research institution based in the Salt Lake City of United States, said IDFL was working with other laboratories on ways to determine if material had been live-plucked. see