Section 1.2: Current & Potential Value of Alpaca Fiber

Alpaca are renowned for producing the world’s most sustainable luxury fiber. Alpaca Fiber can be eco-friendly, softer than cashmere, and warm as polar bear fleece.

Experience the Alpaca Lifestyle while producing luxury products - through Alpaca Fiber Farming
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Section 1: Current & Potential Value of Alpaca Fiber

Breeders selectively breed their livestock in order to maximize profit achieved through the sale of end products and/or services. North American alpacas are no longer classified by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an ‘exotic species’ and are defined as “livestock” under federal regulations. This change brings with it both new responsibilities, as well as benefits and opportunities. 

Some of us freely admit we do not breed to sell, but sell to breed. In other words, we have a passion for improving favorable traits and enjoy the associated recognition in the show ring. Whether we breed for improved seed stock, stud fees, alpaca sales, building of large fiber herds, or for breeding the ideal alpacas for the show ring, to be successful we must have a keen understanding of the products and services from which we intend to profit. 

This material will focus on one aspect of the alpaca livestock business – Alpaca Fiber Farming. Unlike other ”fiber to textile” competitors (wool, cashmere, silk, etc.), the alpaca is relatively rare. As a result, the value of alpaca fiber in the marketplace, both current and potential, is poorly understood in North America. We alpaca breeders are faced not only with creating and nurturing both a supply and demand for alpaca fiber, but with educating the North American public about our end product’s potential value. To do this most effectively, we must hold a collective vision in our hearts and minds. We must map out a future in which we are in basic agreement as to our selective breeding goals and strategies, and how we plan to interface with potential markets. 

The most critical factor is that we must intuitively understand that in order to succeed we must partner as breeders for mutual benefit, rather than focus on each other as competitors. Secondly, we need a map or plan as to how we can achieve these mutual goals.

The road to success, both financial and spiritual, may well be summed up by the following adage, “Laborers work with their hands; Craftsman work with their hands and their brains; Artisans work with their hands, their brains and their hearts.”

Current (2018) Market Prices for Alpaca Fiber

Raw Fleece $0-$10 per pound
Skirted & Sorted $1-$28 per pound
Roving & Batts $50-$75 per pound
Yarn $100-$150 per pound
  • The more invested, the higher the value.
  • The higher the value, the higher the total return for a given amount of raw material.

(Data by Karl Heinrich, New Era Fiber Mill, 2017.)

Current (2018) Market Prices for Farm Processed Alpaca Fiber

Raw Fiber $2 per oz
Washed and dried fleece $4 per oz
Carded fleece $6 per oz
Carded with embellishments $8 per oz
  • Carded batt at $8 per oz is best value for grower processing on-farm.

(Data provided by Roo Kline, Moonwood Farm Fiber Studio, 2017.)

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