Alpacas have been a part of contemporary Australian agriculture since the industry was established with the first imports of breeding stock in 1989. Growing from a niche business with high entry costs for producers, the national herd of over 350,000 head in 2021, has seen industry focus expand into commercial fleece production, livestock export, and meat production.
Premium breeding livestock genetics are supplied for both domestic and export markets. Alpaca producers also sell livestock for herd guards, pets, and the meat industry.
Most commercially grown fleece is sold through accumulators, auctioneers, and cooperatives for bulk export. A smaller proportion of the annual yield is processed into yarn and fleece products at textile mills located in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. Some fleece is processed offshore by alpaca producers and returned to their own businesses for retail.
Competitiveness in Australian agriculture is determined by climate, water, soil type and proximity to market. Commercial alpaca fleece and livestock production is best suited to cool and temperate climate regions, across the coastal, grazing, and pastoral agricultural zones. These areas mostly have good access to agricultural suppliers/ service providers and reasonable proximity to infrastructure for product export.
Compact Business Case – Alpaca
In 2022, the AAA worked with Agrifutures Australia as part of their Emerging Industries Program. The program funded independent expert consultants GHD Pty LTD to produce a compact business case examining the current farmgate returns and potential growth opportunities and challenges for the industry.
- International markets have high unmet demand for alpaca fleece
- Industry has potential to grow annual farmgate value from AUD$19m to AUD$52m
- Roadblocks such as restrictions on breeding livestock export and lack of supply chain infrastructure for fleece accumulation and processing are inhibiting growth
- Industry education and strategic investment are critical for improving supply
AAA Research Strategy
A viable, competitive alpaca industry is based in rigorous, evidence-based research and strategic development. Since the industry was established, the AAA has invested in research partnerships and member education to improve agricultural practices, product quality, and annual yield.
The AAA has developed a Research and Industry Development Strategy in consultation with members. This strategy is aligned to the Sustainability Framework and Strategic Plan. It will inform funding decisions and industry development opportunities. All research and industry development activities must show a tangible, direct benefit for members of the AAA.
Alpaca Industry Research Network (AIRN)
People with a background in academic, scientific, or industrial research, and an interest in the future of the Australian alpaca industry are invited to join the new Alpaca Industry Research Network. This a voluntary network established by the Australian Alpaca Association to support research which contributes to a credible, authoritative evidence-base to inform good practice and help develop a sustainable and resilient Australian alpaca industry.
If you are interested, please read the Terms of Reference, and send your expression of interest outlining your professional qualifications and areas of research interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Dixon Memorial Scholarship
In recognition of services to the alpaca industry by the late Dr Richard Dixon, the AAA offers a scholarship to a senior veterinary student each year. The development scholarship honours the late Dr Dixon who is widely recognised for his vision and commitment to improving alpaca health and for establishing so many of the founding veterinary practices in Australian alpaca industry including Q‑Alpaca.
Senior students of Veterinary Science who are Australian citizens or permanent residents and who are studying at an Australian University are eligible to apply. The scholarship is valued at AUD$3,000.
Applicants must read the Application Guidelines before applying. Applications close at midnight on 30th June.
Industry Development Grant
The Industry Development Grant is a competitive annual grant offered by the AAA. It supports industry research or development projects which contribute to the development of a successful and sustainable alpaca industry in Australia.
Projects must offer a direct and measurable benefit to the wider Australian alpaca industry and must align with the mission, values, and strategic goals of the AAA. The grant is valued at AUD$5,000.
Potential applicants must read and abide by the Terms and Conditions and complete an application form. Applications close at midnight on 30th June 2023.