From the pharmacy to the gas pump
These breath-fresheners have taken over the world: Fisherman's Friend is today one of the best-known of any lozenges. They are exported to more than 100 countries from a single production site in the north of England. The fifth generation of the family is now running the Lofthouse production facility in Fleetwood. Fisherman's Friend were at first only marketed in pharmacies. The recipe was successful – particularly for easing the respiratory problems of deep-sea fishermen. The lozenges are nowadays also well known as a confectionery. In most countries they can be obtained through a large number of marketing channels
Consider one example: according to statistics provided by CFP Brands, seven flavors of Fisherman's Friend are amongst ten bestselling sweets in the German gas station sector, Germany is Lofthouse's most important sales market. Dr. Robert Bentwood, Production Manager at Lofthouse, explains that, "Fisherman's Friend has been part of the standard repertoire of the German confectionery market for decades. The classic types, such as cherry or mint, are the most popular there. The second most important sales market is Thailand, where our lozenges have increasingly come into vogue. The Honey & Lemon flavor is particularly popular there, and we make it specially for the Thai market."
The Fisherman's best friend
The lozenges were given their name by English fishermen, who referred to them as their "friends" while out at sea. At present there are 15 flavors of Fisherman's Friend, three of them including sugar (single-colored packaging), and 12 sugar-free versions (striped packaging).
Visit from the FDA
Every year, about 350 workers at Lofthouse make more than five billion lozenges for the world market. Their workplace: a factory that meets the latest pharmaceutical requirements. "We have to run our production to meet higher standards than is usual in the confectionery industry," explains Dr Brentwood.
"That's mainly due to the high menthol content in the lozenges. In some countries, such as in the USA, they even require approval as a medication. That's why we received our first visit from the FDA, the American regulation authority, just about two years ago. They were able to confirm in the factory that we work according to strict pharmaceutical guidelines."
Strong lozenges, strong pressing technology
Lofthouse began looking for new technologies for this production environment in 2013. According to Dr Brentwood, "We wanted to increase the production of the sugar-free lozenges. We needed powerful tablet presses for that. Following recommendations we received, we finally decided in favor of Fette Compacting – after looking very closely at tablet presses from other manufacturers."
Our choice fell on the high-performance FE55 rotary press, which Fette Compacting had first presented to the industry in 2011. In addition to a high yield and a high output, it was important for Lofthouse that the tablet presses could be integrated tightly into our production facility, and could be refitted quickly for different flavors. The FE55 is designed for precisely that: more than 90 percent of all our products can be made with this single rotary press without additional investment or expensive refits.
Ease of use at centre stage
With the FE55, the focus is on the operator – the basis for this is the TRI.EASY design concept from Fette Compacting, which ensures problem-free production. Even the cleaning and refitting of the FE55 are simple. Paul Zak, operative at Lofthouse, can confirm this from experience: "Either we clean with the machine dry or – in the case of tough substances like liquorice or salmiak – wet. In both cases, the interior of the machine and the individual components are easy to get at and to handle."
A successful combination: Fisherman's friend and the FE55
The first FE55 tablet press started operation at Lofthouse in 2014; a second press started in 2015, and a third FE55 has been added this year. The first two machines have so far turned more than 1000 tonnes of raw materials into more than one billion lozenges. Dr Brentwood emphasizes: "The FE55 is set to remain our first choice."
Fette Compacting GmbH
Sales Director Global Accounts & EMEA
Dr. Steffen Wehlte
Grabauer Str. 24
T +49 4151 12-835