“To be the foremost Australian company successfully marketing premium alpaca products and fibre, both nationally & internationally.”
The Australian Alpaca Co-operative Ltd was established in March 1995 under the Victorian Co-operatives Act. It was a breeder-driven organisation that created products manufactured and designed in Australia using Australian grown alpaca fibre. The Co-op rose to a membership of almost 1000 alpaca growers, who supported it by buying a lot of the early products and also by supplying fleece – often either donating it or taking Co-op shares as payment. This enabled the Co-operative to experiment with a number of the early classing categories. This valuable R & D work provided the essential foundation for the Co-op to approach commercial strategic partners to include alpaca products in their ranges and to begin to sell Australian alpaca products nationally to the traditional retail trade.
This early work essentially set the basis for the commercialisation of the Australian alpaca industry – but lack of working capital inhibited early growth. As the volume of the national clip grew and the Co-op’s strategic partners had more success, and as further wholesale manufacturing strategic partners came on board, it became clear that a new organisational structure had to be put in place.
In early 2003 the Australian Alpaca Co-operative formulated a new 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. Projections for industry growth 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. With expert help and support from members of the Australian Alpaca Association Council and its appointed Joint Project Working Group, this culminated in the formation of Australian Alpaca Fleece Ltd (AAFL) on 31 March 2004. The AAA, through a wholly-owned company, also provided essential working capital by becoming its largest shareholder. Without this fundamental breeder support, together with additional share subscriptions from a number of AAA members, the new Company could not have been formed.