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John & Susan Merrell
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Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
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Production Stats

Alpaca fiber is a rare commodity on the global markets.  In large part due to this rarity it has maintained a relatively high value over the years.

Alpaca is one of the rarest of the natural textile fibers, as seen in this table:

FiberMajor ProducersProduction
Alpaca Peru 4000 tons
Cashmere China-Iran 5000 tons
Angora China-France-Chile 8500 tons
Llama Bolivia 600 tons
Vicuna Peru 3 tons
Mohair South Africa-USA-Turkey 22,000 tons
Wool New Zealand-Australia-South Africa 1,851,000 tons

South America, primarily Peru, remains the dominant producer of alpaca.  However, the size of herds in both North America (United States and Canada) and Australia (including New Zealand) have been growing, and these two regions can be expected to become significant producers of alpaca over the next 10-15 years.

Herd statistics suggest that both the US and Australian herds are growing from 15-18% per year.  Both countries have herds that currently hold a bit over 100,000 head (2007), and are producing an estimated 500,000 pounds of fiber annually - roughly 500 tons between the two countries.

Relatively little of the fiber produced by the US and Australia is currently finding its way into commercial production, but this will undoubtedly change.  By 2020 it is likely that the United States will be producing 2,500 tons of alpaca fiber a year.  Assuming that South America production remains constant (which has been the case over the past 100 years), this will mean that the United States will be producing from 20-30% of the world's supply of alpaca.

It should be noted that there is evidence that China is showing interest in alpaca.  Not only is China the largest purchaser of alpaca fiber, there are reports that they have begun importing animals in order to establish a vertically integrated industry. 

 
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"He smoked several pounds of my tobacco, and taught me several ounces of things worth knowing; but he would never accept any gifts, not even when the cold weather came, and gripped the poor thin chest under the poor thin alpaca-coat. He grew very angry, and said that I had insulted him, and that he was not going into hospital. He had lived like a beast and he would die rationally, like a man..."

Rudyard Kipling
Indian Tales
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