台灣羽絨,溫暖全世界

:::

2013 / 2月

文‧陳歆怡 圖‧林格立


每當冬季寒流來襲,羽絨衣、羽絨被的銷售就頻傳捷報。尤其近年流行輕薄感羽絨衣,成為服飾業者的兵家必爭之地。

 

然而,你可能不知道,許多國際知名品牌的羽絨製品,不論是一床價值台幣數十萬元的頂級羽絨被,或是適用於雪地的超保暖羽絨衣,其內的高級羽絨原料多由台灣供應。

 

台灣每年羽絨加工出口占全球總量的4分之1,僅次於中國大陸及歐盟。今年6月,擁有一百多個會員代表的國際羽絨羽毛局,將首度在台灣召開年會,象徵台灣羽毛產業在全球羽毛業界扮演舉足輕重的角色。

 

且看這項從資源回收業起家的傳統產業如何蛻變,成為最夯的綠金產業。


2011年日本發生福島核災,此後日本全國上下響應節電,對策除了縮短商店營業時間、改用LED燈泡、辦公大樓夜間關燈等,還包括使用羽絨寢具。

「羽絨被在日本家庭的普及率本來就高,311之後,家家戶戶開始添購羽絨枕、羽絨墊被,甚至羽絨含量更高的羽絨被。因為把全身包裹在暖呼呼、吸濕又透氣的羽絨裡,就不需要開電暖器了。」台灣合隆毛廠副總經理簡秀梅說。也因為日本市場的新興需求,這兩年來,國內一些羽毛廠經常為日本訂單趕工。

最夯環保素材

羽絨跟羽毛如何分別?為何有這樣優異的保暖性能?

首先,只有鴨、鵝、及生存於極地的企鵝等水禽類才有羽絨,陸禽類動物如雞、鴿子等則沒有羽絨。羽毛外觀呈扁平狀、中心有骨幹,遍布於全身;羽絨則密生於水禽類的胸、腹部,也存在翅膀根基部及成鳥的羽毛下部,是讓其保持溫度的重要防護,尤其胸、腹部的羽絨專門用來孵蛋或接觸寒冷水面。

羽絨看起來有如一朵朵細小球狀的蒲公英,據估算,每一盎司(約28.35公克)的羽絨,約有200萬根的柔軟小細絲,從中心點向外輻射、散開,因此形成嚴密保暖結構,能有效留住人體熱空氣,又避免冷空氣穿透。至於羽毛則沒有保暖性,但因有良好的彈力及支撐性,常用來填充墊被、抱枕、沙發椅等。

羽絨具有質輕、保暖、柔軟、吸濕、透氣、乾爽等特性,經濟價值遠高於羽毛,然而,一隻5.5~6公斤的鵝,全身羽絨量約只有35公克,體型較小的鴨,羽絨量更少至約20公克。換句話說,一床1公斤、含絨量90%的羽絨被,需要用上24隻鵝或43隻鴨身上的羽絨。

點「毛」成金術

羽絨可謂廢棄資源再生利用,後製處理技術學問大。

根據財政部關稅總局的統計,台灣2012年進口的初級羽毛及羽絨(指未經精洗加工的半成品)達2萬1,646公噸,經過羽毛加工業者精製後出口的羽毛及絨毛為1萬1,163公噸,進出口產值各為1.8億美元及2.29億美元。計算進出口每單位重量的價差顯示,羽絨原料加工後增值140%,可謂點石成金。

農委會家禽生產科科長江文全指出,精密的加工處理流程,攸關原料的清潔衛生、成本控制、品質好壞等,能積極提升羽絨及羽毛的經濟價值。

簡單來說,加工過程可分為清潔、分毛、混合(或稱拼堆)三步驟,而清潔又分為粗洗跟精洗兩次程序。

粗洗是將從鴨鵝身上收集的原毛進行初級清潔、殺菌、分毛,由於原毛混雜很多泥沙、塵埃、殘血及雜質等,要在數日內完成粗洗與烘乾,才能確保羽毛不因潮濕而腐爛。台灣進口的原料,都是在產地粗洗過的半成品。

從精洗到高溫殺菌是一貫化機械作業,也是台灣強項;使用專業的清潔及除臭藥劑,經過約8回水洗,脫水後再用攝氏130度的高溫烘乾,以達到徹底去灰、去污、去雜味、及消毒殺菌。重要的是,烘乾的時間與溫度必須控制恰當,過與不及都將影響羽毛的光澤、彈性與蓬鬆度。

分毛則是半自動化操作,利用流體力學原理,在高達10米的分毛機中,經由風速及風量的調控,讓原本糾結成團、輕重不同的羽毛及羽絨,分別飄落於遠近不同、由木板隔開的箱室內,以達到分類羽絨及羽毛的效果。

混合是將已分毛、檢驗合格的原料挑出來再做調合,達到客戶要求的羽絨比例與品質。由於不同產地、不同季節收集的羽絨及羽毛,品質都有差異,因此,藉由混合能讓成品更為穩定、均勻。

「酒矸倘賣無」起家

江文全科長指出,台灣在1950~1970年代,曾是全世界數一數二的羽毛加工地區,如今羽絨出口量仍占全球總量的4分之1,僅次於原毛產量豐厚的中國大陸及歐盟。

「台灣羽毛加工業者具有領先技術又有全球布局能力,靠的是數代人打拚累積的能量。事實上,現今存在的10大加工業者,都是家族事業,彼此或有聯姻關係,或是前員工另起爐灶,」江文全說。

從百年大廠合隆的蛻變歷程,即可窺見台灣羽毛產業的傳承。

合隆毛廠在台灣桃園,以及中國大陸的深圳、江西、黑龍江等地都設有工廠,一年加工生產的羽絨原料重量超過2萬公噸。主要客戶包括義大利Zegna、FILA、美國Coach、Ralph Lauren等。

現年59歲的合隆董事長陳焜耀,將合隆毛廠的源起回溯至百年前渡海來台的先祖陳順風──當年他落腳台北大稻埕,從沿街叫賣「酒矸倘賣無」的小販起家,之後向日本政府取得三大廢棄物(羽毛、酒瓶、鋼鐵)回收的特許執照,成為家族羽毛加工事業的發軔。

1950年韓戰爆發,當時美國封鎖中國及東歐等共產國家的羽毛原料,因美軍需要大量羽絨夾克、睡袋等軍備物資,於是被納入「反共」防禦體系的台灣,順勢成為羽毛原料供應地區。

1960年代,西方富裕國家對羽絨寢具需求大增,台灣羽毛加工及羽絨成衣業蓬勃發展。只是當時國內只有初級加工,製作成衣所需的精製羽絨原料均從歐美進口。靠近中部鴨鵝養殖區的彰化溪洲及埔鹽,自此成為羽毛產業主要聚落。而合隆之所以選在桃園大園設廠,看重的是臨近國際機場,航空貿易便捷。

傳產大蛻變

1964年,合隆第三代陳雲溪決定在新加坡自由港設廠,為台灣合隆日後的全球布局奠下基礎,也為當年尚屬封閉的台灣,打開與國際羽毛技術接軌的窗口﹔1972年,台灣合隆大園廠從新加坡廠引進德國中古水洗烘乾機再仿製,此後又研發分毛機成功,帶動國內羽毛精洗加工技術大躍進。

1970年代中期,日本經濟起飛,對精緻羽絨需求大增,進一步提升台灣羽毛產業能量。

1988年以降,隨著大陸開放及國內產業環境變遷,傳統產業紛紛外移中國大陸及東南亞,合隆集團在第四代接班人陳焜耀的努力下,也從深圳廠開始拓展在大陸的生產據點,更重要的是,合隆陸續在加拿大、德國及美國設立合夥企業,得以深入世界各著名羽絨產區,建立完整的原料供應體系並掌握市場趨勢。

如今合隆擁有12條產品線,可供應世界上最挑剔客戶的需求。舉例而言,年產量僅2,000~3,000公斤、昂貴珍稀的冰島雁鴨絨,一床被要價在新台幣40萬元以上,合隆是極少數能供貨的廠商。

冰島雁鴨生長於冰島及加拿大北極圈內,孵蛋期間母鴨會用嘴喙拔下胸前羽絨築巢,特色為每根絨絲上都有天然的「鉤」,黏團性優異,放在手心上就能感覺溫暖。每年6~9月孵化期過後,當地農民會摘取受總量管制的巢中羽絨,由取得執照的業者蒐購後,再賣給有規模的加工廠商,部分收入還要回饋做保育基金。

又如中國著名的東北大白鵝,產地氣候與歷史悠久的加拿大白鵝類似,且兩者都以生產鵝肝為目的,採放牧飼養、飼養期長,因此絨球彈性與保暖性佳。

然而,過去東北地區缺乏基礎建設,直到合隆身先士卒在黑龍江的杜蒙設廠,才將東北大白鵝的鵝絨做出名氣與價值。

使命:讓台灣在世界發光

也是老字號的大洋羽毛副總經理陸亮豪指出,羽絨業具有期貨業特質,其價格跟著鴨/鵝肉市場連動,一旦發生禽流感等天災人禍,造成鴨/鵝隻短缺,羽絨產量跟著減少,收購價格就會上升,但賣出價卻是早在幾個月前就訂下的。能否看準趨勢,適時低買高賣,就成了獲利與否的重要關鍵。

陳焜耀認為,台灣羽絨產業能生存至今,有賴世代傳承的一分使命感,「必須不辭辛勞,全球走透透。」策略上,透過全球採購與垂直整合,在國際產業鏈中扮演無可取代的「轉運中心」角色。

為了抓緊市場脈動及客戶需求,多年來陳焜耀已習慣空中飛人的生活,穿梭在原料產地──加拿大、德國,主要市場──美國、日本,及加工基地──台灣與大陸之間,還因此獲得國泰航空飛行哩程數全球前13名的殊榮。

2006年,陳焜耀選任全球最重要產業組織「國際羽毛羽絨局」(IDFB)的技術委員會主席至今,同時擔任台灣區羽毛輸出業同業公會理事長的他,積極爭取到今年IDFB大會在台灣舉辦,「我希望台灣羽毛產業對世界的貢獻能被看到。」

從小販挑擔挨家挨戶收毛,到台商全球趴趴走,台灣羽毛產業勤奮用心的精神,始終如一。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Warming the World: Taiwan Down

Chen Hsin-yi /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

You may not know it, but the down found in many international brand-name luxury products, whether bedding that can run over NT$100,000 or warm winter clothing for snowy climes, is supplied by Taiwan.

 

Taiwan’s exports of down and feathers account for one-fourth of the world’s total. It trails only mainland China and the European Union. And the more than 100 members of the International Down and Feather Bureau have elected to hold their June meeting this year in Taiwan, a choice that demonstrates the important role that Taiwan plays in the global market for down and feathers.


The Fu­ku­shima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011 affected the entire nation’s power supply. Steps taken to compensate included reducing the opening hours of retail stores, switching to LED light bulbs, turning off all lights in office buildings at night, and using more down products.

“There was already a high usage rate of down comforters among Japanese families,” explains Jian Xiu­mei, vice president of Hop Lion Feather Works. “But after the events of March 11, families began to use more down pillows, down mattress pads, and comforters with even higher quantities of down. That’s because if you wrap yourself in warm down, which also breathes well and wicks away moisture, then you don’t need to turn on electric heat.” With greater demand from the Japanese market, down factories in Taiwan been working at full capacity to keep up with Japanese orders.

Popular green material

How does one distinguish between feathers and down? And why is down such a great insulator?

First of all, only waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, have down of commercial value. Land birds such as chickens and pigeons do not. Feathers are flat with a stiff shaft in the middle, and are distributed all over a bird’s body. Down, on the other hand, grows thick on the chest and belly of water birds, and can also be found at the base of the wing and under the feathers of mature birds. The structure of down helps to maintain warmth, with the down at the breast and belly in particular used to insulate eggs or insulate birds from cold water.

Down feathers look like small round dandelion fluff. Each ounce (about 28.35 grams) of down has about 2 million individual soft filaments, which have a loose structure that radiates from a vestigial quill point (rather than a true shaft). This structure allows down to trap air and makes it a good insulator. Consequently down keeps people warm and keeps cold air out. Feathers, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as good insulators, but their elasticity makes them well suited for mattress pads, throw pillows, sofa cushions and so forth.

Turning feathers into gold

The down and feather industry could be described as a form of highly skilled recycling.

According to the Ministry of Finance, in 2012 Taiwan imported 21,646 metric tons of semi-processed down and feathers, and exported 11,163 metric tons of finished (fully processed) down and feathers. The imports and exports were valued at US$180 million and US$229 million respectively. When you account for the difference in unit price, the amount of value added to finished down is 140%. The industry is like an alchemist of yore, turning stone into gold.

­Jiang Wen­quan, poultry industry section chief at the Council of Agriculture (COA), points out that processing can substantially raise the economic value of down and feathers. In essence, the processing can be divided into three steps: cleaning, grading and mixing. And cleaning can be further divided into preliminary and secondary cleanings.

The preliminary cleaning takes the unprocessed down and feathers and cleans them of foreign matter. The sand, dust and blood mixed in with the down and feathers must be washed out, and then the semi-processed down and feathers must be dried within a couple of days in order to ensure that they don’t rot from moisture. Imports to Taiwan are all semi-processed, with the preliminary cleaning performed in their place of origin.

The stages from the secondary cleaning to the high-temperature sterilization are integrated and mechanized operations at which Taiwan excels. Specialized agents are used to purify and deodorize the down. After about eight cycles of rinsing in water, the down is then spin-dried, then air-dried at 130°C. By that point, all the dust, dirt, odors and germs have been eliminated. It’s important to precisely control the drying time, because too little or too much could affect the shine, flexibility and “loft” of the down and feathers.

Separating down and feathers, on the other hand, is a semi-mechanized process. It makes use of the science of fluid dynamics: The process employs sorting machines which can exceed 10 meters in height, and which allow one to adjust the quantity and speed of airflow so as to separate clumps of mixed down and feathers into different grades based on how far they float before falling into chambers partitioned with wood. These machines are key to controlling quality and cost.

Mixing is carried out only after the down and feathers have first been sorted and inspected, and it’s done to meet the ratio of down to feathers requested by the client.

Starting as a junk dealer

The COA’s Jiang Wen­quan points out that throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s Taiwan was among the world leaders for down and feather processing. Even today the value of its exports of down and feathers account for one-fourth of the world’s total, behind only mainland China and the EU, both of which produce abundant quantities of raw feathers.

“Built up for generations in family firms, Taiwan’s down and feather processing industry has cutting-edge technology and global reach,” notes Jiang. “In fact, the 10 largest processors in Taiwan are all family businesses. Many are interconnected through marriage, or were founded by someone who used to work at one of the other firms.”

Hop Lion’s 100-year history offers a glimpse at how Taiwan’s down and feather industry has evolved over the generations.

Hop Lion has factories in Tao­yuan and on the Chinese mainland in places such as Shen­zhen, ­Jiangxi, and Hei­long­jiang. Important international clients include Zegna, FILA, Coach, and Ralph Lauren.

Yao K.Y. Chen, Hop Lion’s 59-year-old chairman, traces the company back a century to when his ancestor Chen Shun­feng arrived in Tai­pei’s Da­dao­cheng and opened a stand as a junk dealer. Later he would acquire a special recycler’s license and purchase waste feathers, alcohol bottles and scrap metal from the Japanese colonial government. That’s how the family got into the feather processing business.

In 1950, when the Korean War broke out, the United States was closed out of feather supplies from Communist mainland China and Eastern Europe, both major suppliers. Because the US military had a big need for down jackets and sleeping bags, anti-Communist Taiwan became an important supplier.

In the 1960s, demand for down bedding in wealthy Western nations increased by leaps and bounds, and Taiwan’s down and feather processing and down garment industries flourished.

Industrial metamorphosis

In 1964 Hop Lion’s third-generation leader Chen ­­Yunxi decided to establish a factory in Singapore, laying the groundwork for the global network that the company would build in the future, and also providing access to down processing techniques and technology used internationally at a time when Taiwan was still quite closed off from the international community. In 1972 Hop Lion’s Singapore plant acquired a used German feather washer and dryer, which it then transferred to the company’s Taiwan factory in Da­yuan, Tao­yuan County. The company used the machine as a model for washers and dryers of its own manufacture and successfully developed techniques for sorting feathers, spurring a great leap forward in the secondary cleaning of down and feathers within Taiwan’s domestic industry.

In the 1970s Japan’s economy took off, resulting in much greater demand for down and an increase in the capacity of Taiwan’s down and feathers industry.

Since 1988, with the opening of mainland China and the evolution of Taiwan’s domestic economy, traditional industries have moved to the mainland and Southeast Asia. Under Yao K.Y. Chen, Hop Lion’s fourth-generation leader, the company built a plant in Shen­zhen and then expanded to other manufacturing strongholds in mainland China. Even more importantly, Hop Lion gradually established partnerships with Canadian, German and American companies, gaining footholds in down-producing regions around the world. These have enabled it to build a comprehensive raw material supply system and become more attuned to market trends.

Today Hop Lion supplies some of the world’s pickiest customers with 12 classic product lines.

Geese raised in northeast China share the same climate as geese raised in Canada, and both are matured by grazing for relatively long periods of time. In both places, the produced down is extremely pliant and warm.

And yet, Northeast China used to lack basic infrastructure, and so it wasn’t until Hop Lion established a factory in Hei­long­jiang’s Du­meng that the company was able to obtain supplies of its highly sought-after and expensive goose down.

Mission: Shining Taiwan

Yao K.Y. Chen believes that Taiwan’s down and feathers industry has been able to endure due to a sense of mission within the industry that it “must survive and penetrate global markets.” With its strategy of global purchasing and vertical integration, it wants to play a central role in the international supply chain as a “transfer center.”

In order to get a feel for the pulse of the market and customer needs, Chen has for many years accustomed himself to the life of a frequent flyer, zipping back and forth among production regions (Canada and Germany), major markets (the US and Japan), and processing bases (Taiwan and mainland China). He has earned the distinction of ranking 13th among Cathay Pacific’s customers for air miles accumulated with the airline.

Since 2006 Chen has chaired the technical committee of the International Down and Feather Bureau (the industry’s largest global group). He has simultaneously chaired the Taiwan Feather Exporters’ Association, in which capacity he lobbied successfully to get the IDFB to hold its annual meeting in Taiwan this year. “I want the world to recognize the contributions of Taiwan’s down and feather industry.”

From walking farmhouse to farmhouse to collect feathers in years past to assembling vast overseas networks today, Taiwan’s down and feather industry has never abandoned its determined and diligent approach.

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!