Consumers’ behavior has seen a turnaround in recent years: the trend is to move away from carbohydrates and towards dairy products and foods whose formulas are based on animal milk fat as a flavor carrier. According to OECD estimates, the global demand for dairy products will increase steadily due to population growth. For butter, the “OECD-FAO agricultural outlook 2017–2026” predicts a global increase in consumption from 11.3 million t in 2017 to 12.8 million t in 2023.


Butter, as a “raw material”, is particularly valuable today: between April 2016 and September 2017 alone, the price of one metric ton of butter in global trade rose from 2,500 Euro to 6,800 Euro. For dairies, this requires state-of-the-art processes and technologies for the economic and qualitatively best possible production and processing of dairy products. Here, GEA is considered one of the world’s leading suppliers, with over 125 years of expertise in milk processing and butter production.

Weihenstephan modernizes its butter processing plant with GEA technology

Molkerei Weihenstephan also took advantage of this GEA expertise when it modernized its Freisinger production plant with a completely new butter processing plant and a blended spread production facility. GEA’s BUE 6000 Buttermaking Machine—including its upstream and downstream equipment—is at the heart of the butter processing plant, which started operations in 2016.

The scope of supply for the Theo Müller Group butter processing plant included the following tailor-made components:

  • Buttermaking Machine BUE 6000
    • Specially designed and combined plate heat exchanger as cream warmer and buttermilk cooler
    • Cream supply
    • Dosing unit for dosing various ingredients
    • Continuous butter analysis
    • Butter silo including three butter pumps for the respective filler and packing lines
    • Double-decker, space-saving implemen. tation of the CIP station with butter oil tanks
    • Patented I-Churn system

Blended spread—a lucrative market

The BUE series is designed for the continuous production of butter from sweet or sour cream according to the Fritz process. Besides sweet and sour cream butter, the dosing facility for three liquid additives enables the production of lactic or salted butter, as well as blended spreads with vegetable oil components. However, the BUE in Freising is not set up for the production of the latter— the Weihenstephan factory-owned plant technology is used for this purpose. Blended spreads consisting of a combination of butter and vegetable oil, is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. The sales figures grow continuously. This is an additional, lucrative market for dairies, which are facing a demand for new products.

An industry innovation: the automatic control of the churner drive

This is where the BUE really shines—it offers users a real competitive advantage: equipped with GEA’s patented “I-Churn” system, it is now possible to automatically control the churner drive. “With this industry innovation, fluctuations and changes in the cream temperature and the cream volume can be reliably compensated. The advantages: significantly reduced operating effort, increased product safety and significantly simplified matching of production volume with packing line capacity” says Karsten van Treek, Process Engineer Dairy & Beverage at GEA.

Butter production with the BUE buttermaking machine

Buttermaking, i.e. the transformation of cream into butter, is effected by reversing the oil-in-water emulsion into a waterin- oil emulsion. In this process, the BUE precisely warms the cream to a constant temperature and churns it to butter granules in cylinder 1. In cylinder 2, the granules are cooled down in a chilled buttermilk bath before the buttermilk is drained from the conglomerating butter lumps. In texturizer 1, the butter is kneaded to drain more buttermilk. Then water, buttermilk, dairy culture, salt brine or other liquids can be dosed and a multiple stage mixer evenly blends all ingredients. In the vacuum chamber the enclosed air is extracted.

Subsequently, in texturizer 2 the butter is once more thoroughly kneaded and mixed. An integrated butter pump ensures a continuous discharge of butter to the appropriate line for forming, packing and for the production of mixed blends.

Hygienic design and CIP-cleaning

The butter discharge port of the new BUE has a DIN 11864 union, all other product connections are designed according to ISO 2852 (TriClamp). All machine drives are frequency-controlled. Big doors on all sides give good access to all parts. The machine housing and all other parts coming into contact with the product are made of stainless steel. FDA approved materials are available for the seals. The hygienic design of the machine is certified by USDA. “Another benefit of our latest generation buttermaking machine: the BUE is completely CIP-cleanable and provides product recovery with almost no losses.” says Karsten van Treek.

Stand-alone solution or complete process line

The flexible machine concept of the BUE generation offers solutions for all industrial production capacities of butter and mixed spreads ranging from 800 kg / h to 13,000 kg / h. It can be used as a single integrated machine or for complete process lines with all the necessary components such as tank farm, cream pasteurizer, butter silo, butter pumps and all surrounding equipment—including all controls and visualization. With the exception of the directly connected packaging machine, all process modules can be supplied by GEA from a single source. For the investor, this means fewer interfaces, optimum compatibility and optimized plant availability thanks to perfectly coordinated, tried-and-tested components and processes.

It all started with the manual milk centrifuge…

With the BUE series, GEA offers dairies the most innovative buttermaking technology for a qualitatively and economically efficient production. The basis for this was laid 125 years ago by the founding fathers of today’s GEA. On May 29, 1893 Franz Ramesohl and Franz Schmidt from the Westphalian Oelde filed their first “manual milk centrifuge” design for patent, with the name “Drive device on milk extractors with sprocket drive for the unilaterally entrained pulley and adjustable tensioner for the belt” in the then German Empire. By doing so, they followed a trend that revolutionized milk processing: with the new centrifuges, the separation of sensitive raw milk into cream and skimmed milk was much faster and more thorough than before. On September 1, 1893, they began manufacturing their milk separators in the workshop, and as early as 1900, more than 10,000 of their milk centrifuges were in use.

The basis for modern buttermaking technology

The pioneering invention of the milk skimming centrifuge also laid the foundation for modern buttermaking technology. Initial attempts at butter production were made by GEA as early as 1928 with the development of a discontinuous churn. Ever since Dr. Fritz invented the continuous buttermaking machine in 1941, GEA has continuously developed the principle further and has become a leading supplier in buttermaking technology. The first generation of GEA’s BUB model has been technologically optimized over the decades in terms of throughput, product quality, product yield and energy efficiency. The preliminary end point is the current BUE series, which has been in use in more than 20 large dairies around the world since 2007. In total, more than 1,000 buttermaking machines have been sold by GEA to date.


GEA’s buttermaking machines and complete process lines are based on the current BUE series and allow tailor-made solutions with the highest product quality and yield to be implemented.