An increasing number of people, especially in the U.S. and Australia, are picturing dinner when they think of alpacas.
When you think of an alpaca, you might picture petting a cute, fluffy camelid with long lashes. But an increasing number of people, especially in the U.S. and Australia, are picturing dinner.
While the alpaca’s primary product is warm, soft fleece, many breeders began to look at other uses such as meat and leather as fiber prices dropped in recent years. In fact, Twisted Suri Alpaca Ranch in Minnesota has one of the first alpaca livestock models using every animal part, including freeze-drying organs into pet snacks and using manure for vermicompost.
till, meat seems to be second most profitable and Australian breeders – the world’s second biggest alpaca market after their native South America – are intent on bringing alpaca dishes to high-end restaurants and mainstream consumers.
From jerky and polish sausage to steaks and ground meat, alpaca seems to be growing on Americans too even though it’s currently still listed as an exotic species with sales regulated by the FDA.
One alpaca can produce 60 pounds of meat – about the same as a deer. It’s been described as a lean, nutrient-dense, and tasty substitute for beef or turkey in many recipes with a flavor similar to venison or lamb. Best cooked to medium or medium-rare, the fillet and backstrap are reported to be the premium cuts.