Why are alpaca wool products so expensive? To put it simply: supply and demand. Compared to sheep wool, alpaca is harder to get, harder to process and more expensive to create. It costs us $32 per alpaca to shear our alpacas and obtain the fleece. It only costs between $2 - $4 to shear a sheep. Looking past the shearing cost, to purchase alpaca fleece, manufacturers pay about $2 an ounce, whereas sheep manufacturers pay about $0.11 per ounce. Making products from alpaca costs manufacturers way more than it costs people and companies who are using sheep wool.
Alpacas are also few and far between. There are 5.2 million sheep in the United States, but only about 248,000 alpacas, and there are zero alpaca wool mills in the United States. We would need at least one million alpacas in the United States for there to be a mill, so we’re only about ¼ of the way there. Because of this, people creating alpaca products must go through other countries, namely Peru.
Sheep’s wool on the other hand can be processed just about anywhere in the United States, which dramatically reduces costs for businesses using that fiber. Since alpaca fiber is so different from sheep fiber, it cannot be spun or processed using the same machines as sheep’s wool, so there’s no overlap in mill usage either, making alpaca wool a boutique market.
Alpaca is a premium product that costs businesses a lot of money to acquire. It’s the more eco-friendly and higher performing natural fiber, which makes it worth it, but until there are more alpacas and alpaca mills in the United States, alpaca fiber and alpaca wool products will always cost significantly more than other wool products.
As a company, Alpacas of Montana values creating jobs for Montanan's and supporting local crafters. Because of this we employ multiple Montana based knitters to hand create some of our product line.
Join the alpaca revolution! Alpaca is a sustainable alternative that is not only good for the earth, but for all of us. Alpaca wool is stronger, softer, more eco-friendly, and offers 85% greater wicking capability than merino wool. It is also hypoallergenic! Shop our collections and follow us on social media!