Making Goats Milk Soap Business Sustainable by Implementing Standard Manufacturing and Testing Protocols

Project Overview

FNC14-942
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2014: $5,635.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: 444Farm
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Animals: goats

Practices

  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    The 444Farm is owned and operated by my husband Jay and I and we focus on goats in addition to working off the farm.We have 40 acres (half in wetlands) that we have spent the last two years implementing sustainable grazing practices on by replacing water systems, re-sowing pastures, installing high tensile fences and creating paddocks for rotational grazing. This is for the livestock part of our operation. The other focus of our farm is the value-add portion with our dairy goats. Currently, they provide the milk used in our goat’s milk soap business. Our product is sold mainly thru events such as festivals, craft shows, and farmer’s market along with internet sales. We sell goat’s milk cold processed bar soaps and lotions. However, the products that set us apart from other soap makers are our goats milk cream soaps. This soap cures for four months and is a “puddle of goodness” with lather like Cool Whip and a velvet-like feel. We have three different cream soap products made with goat’s milk – Purifying Facial Soap with pink kaolin clay, Oats n Honey Facial Cleanser with ground oats and local honey, and the exfoliating Creamy Sugar Scrub.Problem/SolutionAs a value-add product, goat’s milk bar soaps have a low risk of contamination, but has steep competition from other soap makers. Looking for other value-add products, we have turned to creating cream soaps. The problem cream soaps introduce is the increased risk of contamination during the manufacturing process or when the customer uses it if they introduce bacteria by placing a wet or dirty finger into the product.The solution is to implement safe manufacturing practices, complete product challenge testing and to market our product safety and practices.Goat’s Milk soap products and the bath and beauty markets are growing. This creates opportunities for other farm families to create additional farm revenue with a value-add product such as soaps, lotions, lip balms, or hydrosols. Many of these ventures start in the kitchen, but as we scale to include liquid based products (such as lotions or liquid soaps), we have to be aware of the impact of our processes and environment have on our final products.The value of this project is to create a prototype of safe manufacturing and testing practices that can be shared with other sustainable farmers. The other emphasis is the marketing so that product testing will set us (value-add farmers) aside from the hobbyist to increase our value and make our businesses sustainable.PROBLEM:1. Increased interest for making soaps and lotions, but little information available on how to do it safely.2. Greater risk of contamination in Goat’s Milk Cream Soaps.3. Market demand to “Keep things natural” vs need for preservatives

    Project objectives from proposal:

    GOALS:
    1. Create manufacturing and testing protocols.
    2. Evaluate natural vs man-made preservatives and overall product safety
    3. Manufacture consistent and safe batches of cream soaps
    4. Market the product testing and safety of the product.

    SOLUTION:
    1. Create Manufacturing and Testing Protocols.
    ** Attend a national Soaper’s Conference to learn industry specific manufacturing practices
    ** Complete on-site visit of soap manufacturing facility
    ** Create standard manufacturing processes to consistently deliver a safe product.
    ** Create logs for each batch
    ** Perform quarterly audits of practices
    ** Become Certified through the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild
    2. Evaluate Preservatives, Product Safety, and Consistent Manufacturing
    ** Test the PH Levels of cream soap and research the most appropriate non-paraben preservatives for cream soap products.
    ** Select 1 natural and 1 man-made preservative.
    ** Manufacture test batches
    ** Sample 1 – Base Recipe w natural preservative
    ** Sample 2 – Base Recipe w man-made preservative
    ** Sample 3 – Base recipe modified to significantly increase goat’s milk – w natural preservative
    ** Sample 4 – Modified Base recipe – w man-made preservative
    ** Send samples of cream soap formula to a cosmetic testing lab. They will perform 3 different tests on each sample.
    ** The first test is a Bacteria and Fungi Count to test for harmful contaminants. This test is for contaminants immediately after manufacture.
    ** The second test is a Preservative Challenge test. This testing will show how the product will withstand a microbial attack which is inevitable during customer use – such as sticking a dirty finger into a jar.
    ** The third test is for Shelf-Life and Stability testing. How well will the product perform after 12 months?
    ** Evaluate testing results, make changes, and retest
    3. Market the product testing and product safety.
    ** Verify that labeling meets cosmetic labeling laws
    ** Create brochures promoting the product testing and safety. Hand out samples at farmers’ market.
    ** Have an on-farm workshop where goat farmers or customers can see how soap is made safely

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.