Innovation in business is all well and good, but as the experience of this business owner demonstrates, not understanding the regulatory frameworks before you start work could throw a massive spanner in the works.
Bernadette Finney operates Nucifera Products with her husband Scott. The couple have been in business together for some 25 years, in contract aerosol filling. It was from this experience that Nucifera Products was born in 2015, using coconut oil as a healthier alternative to other cooking oils.
“We did have to have people out to inspect our machinery, to make sure hygiene [safety standards were] adhered to,” says Bernadette.
Yet the real impact of red tape came around a year later, when they sought to expand the use of coconut oil to create their own personal lubricant.
“Regulation was a massive headache, and it was something that really did trip us up,” admits Bernadette.
“We had to spend nearly $5,000 liaising with a TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) person – personal lubricants are actually listed as a medical device so, because of that, it then had to go through this long process of being approved.”
It was the turn of events that came quite as a surprise to the couple, who had already made significant investment in the product’s development.
“We already had decided on our packaging, labelling and everything. It was a big, big oversight on our part that we had to fix straight away,” Bernadette says.
These unexpected costs have added to the initial investment of their lubricant product, called Private, in turn altering their expectations to deliver a return on investment. However, Bernadette is positive about the future having learned this valuable lesson.
“Some stockists of our cooking oil spray have taken on Private, [and now] we want to crack the US and UK markets,” she says.
“We’d also like to explore other products too once Private starts paying us back. At the moment, we’ve kind of got a few ideas, but nothing is concrete yet.”