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Butter shortage? How to improve yield from the same amount of milk

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By Jim Cornall+


As butter prices rise, is there an opportunity to create more butter from the same amount of milk? Pic: ©iStock/Twoellis
As butter prices rise, is there an opportunity to create more butter from the same amount of milk? Pic: ©iStock/Twoellis

Global inflation of butter prices continues to rise; in the EU and France as much as 90%-100% compared to the previous year.

In the most recent GDT quarterly report, the price of butter rose 17% over Q2 to reach $5,768/MT in Event 190.

This is the highest price achieved for butter since the GDT was established.

Indeed, our sister publication,, has run several articles on how rising butter prices affect the bakery industry.

The French federation of bakery entrepreneurs, for example, reported the price of butter is no longer just a question of alarm , but “a major crisis amid risk shortage.”

Fabien Castanier, general secretary of Les Fabricants de Biscuits et Gâteaux de France (biscuit cake and manufacturers) added urgent action is needed to stop the “brutal consequences” the crisis is having on the French biscuit and cake manufacturing industry.

The butter price rise has cost its 60-plus members an estimated €68m ($76m) in the past year, he said, while the butter shortage is presenting risks of downtime of production lines.

According to Michael Yong from Tetra Pak, dairy manufacturers with the most efficient butter yield can take advantage of this price trend and help alleviate a major shortage crisis in the making.

Yong has the following tips to increase the amount of butter produced with the same amount of milk used.

Choose a centrifugal separator with hermetic seals for higher skimming efficiency

In dairy processing, the main purpose of a separator is to skim the milk and separate the fat.

The higher the skimming efficiency (e.g. <0.05% fat in skim), the more cream and butter is produced.

This depends on many factors, such as raw milk quality, air content in the milk, fat globule size and the separator’s design. For example, separators with hermetic seals shut off external air while its hollow spindle accelerates the milk gently into the spinning bowl, thus maintaining fat globule size and hence maximizing skimming efficiency.

“Investing in a high quality separator will therefore pay off in the long term, maximizing fat and butter extraction,” Yong said.

Maximize standardization accuracy with automatic in-line standardization

Standardization accuracy is crucial to meet the fat content requirement of package labels, without losing extra fat meant for butter-making into the standardized milk, he said.

Traditional standardization methods such as batch standardization and inline flow standardization are time- and labor-consuming while still prone to inaccuracies, leading to fat give-away.

Meanwhile, most modern, automatic in-line standardization systems measure both flow and density to determine actual fat content in the milk.

This data is then fed to a computer, which rapidly calculates and fine-tunes the flow ratio to create standardized milk. This method can be fully automated with high accuracy, for example down to +/- 0.015% fat difference, Yong concluded.

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