John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Fiber Values

Alpaca fiber can be valued in many ways, depending on the market the producer is selling to.  Actual prices obtained by the producer are influenced by all the factors influencing any other farm product, including market niche, geographic location and supply and demand.

In the United States the alpaca industry is still a breeder's market due to the relatively small size of the national herd.  This has led to the promulgation of certain claims about the value of alpaca fiber that may not accurately reflect the value of the fiber.

For instance, it is quite easy to find claims of raw alpaca fiber selling for $3 - 5 an ounce.  While it is undoubtedly true that some fiber producers are obtaining prices such as these by selling to fiber artisans, it would be foolish to conclude that alpaca fiber obtains such high prices across the board.

Relatively speaking, alpaca is a very valuable fiber, but the emphasis must be on the word "relative".  It is our opinion that one must look to commercial markets in order to establish the base value of this fiber.

The value of any natural fiber depends largely on its grade - usually established by its micron.  In the global commodity markets baby grade (less than 22 micron) alpaca tops (that is fiber that has been processed to the point that it is ready for spinning into yarn) has ranged from about $17 - $25 a kilogram over the past 10 years - roughly $8 - $12 a pound. 

Recent prices (2007) for equivalent grade of wool are around $2.25  a pound. 

Prices for similar grade mohair is around $2.50 a pound.

Clearly, alpaca is a valuable natural fiber, even in the commodity market. 

Producers will obtain the best prices when they "value add" the fiber.  For the small producer this can be done several ways:

  • Small scale, on farm processing, including skirting, grading, washing and carding the fiber into batts usable by fiber artisans.
  • Custom processing, using any of a number of "mini-mills" that are available.  Fiber can be turned into batts, rovings, felted sheets or finished yarns for sale into the local market.
  • Participation in a fiber pool or a fiber cooperative in order to take advantage of economies of scale unavailable to the individual producer

Producers engaged in value adding their fiber and selling into the local market via farm based stores, local farmer's markets, or local shops can realistically expect to obtain prices as high as $50-$60 a pound with gross margins of 50% or more.



Alpaca Sales

"A stout man in an alpaca jacket and panama hat was seated on the bare lawn, his back to the sun, reading a newspaper. He tried in vain to avoid the glare of the sun on his reading..."

D.H. Lawrence
The Trespasser
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