Comvita

FOODBOWL

Comvita Omega-3 Ultimate EPA softgels contain ultra-purified fish oil sourced from the special oils found naturally in cold water deep-sea fish. Fish oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids, in particular EPA and DHA. Omega-3 Ultimate EPA softgels provide one of the industrys highest concentrations of the important Omega-3 fatty acid known as EPA. Natural lemon flavour.

When Comvita embarked on a project to develop and market superior fish oil they knew they first needed to understand who it was for. Time spent in key markets interviewing target consumers revealed a number of opportunities and ideas. Low resolution prototypes were tested and the feedback appeared to validate the design intent. This is where the next big leap of faith is usually required: how do we take a product to market when we are still not 100% sure it is what the consumer wants? For Comvita the answer turned out to be fairly easy: use the FoodBowl. To get enough material to do a meaningful market test Comvita needed to go bigger than lab scale, but the commercial processing options were too big. The Product Development Kitchen (PDK) turned out to be the perfect step up from the lab.

The need to confidentially develop a commercial process to extract an omega-3 oil using cold processing. Comvita needed a facility that had the right equipment available to test out a small commercial production before committing to a larger batch.

The PDK allowed Comvita to run dozens of trials, often in parallel, with vessels ranging from four litres up to 80 litres. The learnings made here (and there were many) were invaluable as it quickly became apparent that what works in the lab doesn’t necessarily scale up that well. There were also material handling issues that were never thought of that suddenly become quite significant. The cost of getting it wrong at the PDK scale is somewhat more forgivable than in a commercial plant.

Even on this relatively modest scale, Comvita were able to get enough material in reasonably short order that then enabled further processing at a commercial plant into finished goods. As at late-January 2014 the finished goods are being made ready for a trial launch in two of Comvita’s key markets. This is still considered to be very much within the desirability design phase.