The Australian Alpaca Co-operative Ltd was established in March 1995 under the Victorian Co-operatives Act 1981. It was a breeder driven organisation, which on behalf of its members created products manufactured and designed in Australia using Australian grown alpaca fibre. The Co-op rose to a membership of nearly 1000 alpaca growers. The organisation was heavily supported by its members, who also bought a lot of the early products and supplied fleece, which enabled the Co-operative to start experimenting with a number of the early classing categories. This valuable R & D work set the foundation for the Co-op being able to approach commercial strategic partners to include alpaca products in their ranges and sell nationally to the traditional retail trade.
It was this early work that set the basis for the commercialisation of the Australian alpaca industry. As the volume of the national clip grew and the Co-op’s strategic partners had more success, and as further strategic partners came on board, it became clear that a new structure had to be put in place.
In early 2003 the Australian Alpaca Co-operative formulated a business plan, stating that once there were enough partners in homeware and fashion in place it would cease designing, manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing, and concentrate on providing them with the best possible classed fleece at the volumes and timing they required.
The projections for the industry were rising from 30 tonnes of raw fleece per year to over a hundred tonnes by 2006, and with the clip growing at 20% annually it was vital that the fleece side of the alpaca industry was prepared and able to meet this rising demand. This culminated with the forming of Australian Alpaca Fleece Ltd on 31st March 2004, which was carried out with considerable expert help and support from members of the Australian Alpaca Association Council and its appointed Joint Project Working Group.