2013 was by far our busiest year in NEAFP's 16 year history and we want to congratulate the alpaca farms across the country who had their highest sales numbers ever. Our initial growth projections for the entire year were surpassed very early into our busy season and we have been amazed at the increase in volume of U.S. Alpaca products being sold through U.S. Alpaca farms. You have positioned yourself as industry leaders by using a farm up approach to your business model. By producing the raw material on the farm and controlling the retail sales channels in which your finished products penetrate the market, you've taken the reins of your farm's fate.
Farms are realizing the highest possible profit from their fiber by bringing it directly to market themselves. You are working farmer's markets, vending at events, opening farms to agri-tourism and boutique retail operations, selling wholesale and consignment at local independent shops, shipping across the world through online marketplaces, and even experimenting with new sales channels by offering alpaca products in exchange for exciting new digital currencies. Your retail businesses are growing faster than your herds and annual fiber production can support. By beating the pavement and educating the general public through grassroots efforts about U.S. Alpaca, you've created a growing appetite for this versatile natural fiber in your local communities and across the country as a whole. This rising demand for U.S. Alpaca fiber in all it's forms will bring our industry to new heights in the years to come and alpaca farms on the front lines of this growing movement will benefit greatly.
2013 astronomic jump in product sales hasn't been without it's challenges. As many of you know, we've been hard pressed in keeping some of our products in stock at various times throughout the year. Each year we map out our growth projections and set manufacturing deadlines to meet those expectations. The process of taking raw fiber off the animal and into finished, ready to sell products can take upwards of 6 months and has many stops along the way. Each of these stops are subject to their own schedules and time frames. With sales across the country coming on so strong so early in the year, our initial projections were shattered very early into the Fall months. We've been running fire drills with our manufacturing network to stay as close to on top of rising demand as possible. Looking forward, we're ramping up the size of our runs considerably to stay ahead of this increase in volume and be able to absorb larger spikes in product demand as they arise.
With the increase in product sales, comes a major increase in fiber arriving daily at the mill for sorting and processing. This increase in volume, in combination with our new collection point in Indiana + increased participation in fiber collections at alpaca shows, created the perfect storm. Our sorters have just started to jump the holiday hurdle and have begun chipping away at the fiber collection mountain. We have also trained 2 new sorters to help get your fiber banks updated as quickly as possible and to handle further increases in fiber coming in for 2014 and beyond.
2013 was an unbelievably productive year for the U.S. Alpaca industry as a whole. Thank you very much for your continued support and understanding as we experienced some growing pains over the last year.
We look forward to investing in our infrastructure, evolving our processes, and expanding our manufacturing base to better serve alpaca farms. Without you, there would not be an alpaca industry in this country and we look forward to maturing with you and your flourishing businesses over the years to come.
Thank you for letting us serve you over the last 16 years, we can only dream of what the next 16 will look like!
and the entire NEAFP Team