• Words by Sonia

Why Choose Small Batch Production

What is all the fuss behind small batch production?

Well, basically is because we aim for quality over quantity and profit. But first let me tell you what is considered ‘small’.

The first step to release a new product in the market is to create a 100-200 gr sample. Once you are happy with the texture, scent and performance (stability) of the product you then produce a small lab batch of 1 to 5 kg. In general, this first batch is mostly used for several (non-animal) lab tests that are required to check preservative efficacy and product stability.

Before going into full production — this could range anywhere between 200 kg to 2000 kg or more — a brand would first produce a ‘pilot batch’ of 25-50 kg. Why? Because the risks of product instability are high when you step into a manufacturing batch of 20 kg or more. The differences between the lab-size batch and the manufacturing batches are huge — the machinery required for mixing, the turnover of the product, significantly longer heating and cooling times, fillers, homogenisers…etc. The large batches may require the addition of some ingredients to make them more stable and well preserved. Therefore, if you go to a manufacturing facility that produces small batches, you will find that the minimum amount considered ‘small’ is 25 kg—equivalent to 500 face cream jars .

Small lab batches (from now on I will call them ‘micro batches’ to establish the difference) are easier to keep well preserved and stable over a 2 year shelf life as a result of shorter heating and cooling times, the equipment required, the control of microbial contamination and many other factors that influence the making of a product.

Have you ever heard of or experienced a product recall? This is what happens when a large batch goes wrong and results in an unstable product after it has been marketed. I experienced this with a product from l’Occitane in 2008 (when I had my natural perfumery store in Spain). I had to get in touch with the clients who had purchased these products and ask them to return them so they could be returned to the warehouse. Brand uncertainty (which affected collaterally my natural perfumery) made the entire process very stressful.