BUSINESS

Soft sell: Some facts about eiderdown and the industry around it

06/21/2015 10:00 EDT | Updated 06/21/2016 05:59 EDT
SANIKILUAQ, Nunavut - Some facts about eiderdown and a plan by the Nunavut hamlet of Sanikiluaq to open its own eiderdown factory:

What it is: Small, soft inner feathers from the breast of the female eider duck, a large seabird that inhabits the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia

Value: About $330 a kilogram. It takes about one kilogram of eiderdown to make a cold-weather parka.

Why it's so expensive: Rarity. Entire world production is between four tonnes and five tonnes a year. Considered the warmest and lightest insulation anywhere. Doesn't retain moisture and maintains shape and even distribution when used in duvets and clothes.

How it's collected: By hand, from nests with eggs in them. Harvesters must leave at least half the down in the nest.

Economic impact: Feasibility study predicts the Sanikiluaq factory could generate a $200,000 profit by third year. Ten to 15 full-time jobs. Supplementary income source for hunters on the land.