The foundation of the finest down insulation will always be how and where it is sourced. Previously, and still for many today, the down supply chain consisted of a fairly simple network of brokers. These brokers would aggregate material from various sources and regions and sell to suppliers who would process and ship the down to manufacturers. In this model, there is no transparency and traceability is impossible. At its inception ALLIED knew there was a better way to source down. ALLIED developed relationships directly with the farms to provide better quality, higher levels of consistency, price stability and a level of transparency and traceability previously thought impossible.
The supply chain is incredibly complex and makes it that much more important to look for down from a reputable supplier like ALLIED to ensure it was sourced responsibly.
The supply chain consists of two different modules—and industrial farm supply chain as well as a collector based supply. Both are highlighted below.
In the industrial farm module, where fewer farms are responsible for raising more birds, traceability is quite easy. However, at the biggest farms and in certain regions / countries, this is where we see the most egregious animal welfare issues. ALLIED chooses to work predominantly with medium to large farms knowing that the largest farms are where we see the most issues with animal welfare. These farms are nothing like what we think of when we hear about massive poultry farms in North America. Many are in rural parts of the world on large bodies of water where the waterfowl have access to behave naturally.
COLLECTOR BASED SUPPLY CHAIN
Diving deep into the global supply chain, we realize a large portion of down is still produced in a very small farm setting. In these micro farms, families are raising enough birds to simply feed their families and sometimes the village. As the birds become a source of food, the waste material (down and feather) is collected by a network of collectors who take it to their villages to aggregate. This supply chain rarely, if ever, has animal welfare issues but it is hard to trace the down back to its origin. In order to provide full traceability in this supply chain, ALLIED opened rural sourcing offices and, in many cases, taught these collector communities to read and write so they could fill out the paperwork needed to provide the traceability we require.
It’s critically important for us here at ALLIED that all down is sourced responsibly from supply chains that engage in best practices in animal welfare and chemical management. This is why we worked so diligently with The North Face and Control Union to help build The Responsible Down Standard before gifting it to the industry for all to use.
ALLIED continues to work with all major animal welfare standards and build robust brand sourcing initiatives. As of 2017, 100% of all ALLIED down has been certified to a third party standard.