How a dairy solved the problem of excessive creaming

Creaming was threatening to disrupt dairy company’s production and lead to loss of business. Troubleshooting succeeded in identifying and solving the causes, leading to improved product stability.
Excessive creaming in milk carton

A dairy company contacted Tetra Pak after encountering difficulties caused by creaming in its 18% fat UHT cream. The dairy, whose products sell in 13,000 food stores in Europe, had just installed a new line complete with a new homogenizer. But 12 days after packing, a solid cream plug was visible in the top of the packages.

The homogenizer had been installed with the same running conditions as the old one. Nobody had considered that it was more efficient than the old machine and that this might lead to creaming.

Cream is a difficult product to homogenize

“Cream is a difficult product that is prone to over-homogenization, and customers quite often come to us in order to get support,” says Tetra Pak food technologist Pavlos Kouroutsidis. “A customer that is used to homogenizing milk might think that a little extra pressure is just beneficial for product quality, but for cream it is the opposite.”

This is because products with a high fat content, like cream, contain limited natural membrane to cover the newly created free surface area. If cream is homogenized at excessive pressures, the end result will be fat aggregation and free fat leaking out, causing premature creaming and eventually cream plug formation.

The dairy, which risked losing its contract with a large supermarket chain due to the cream plugs, called out Tetra Pak to troubleshoot the process. Two main causes quickly emerged.

One was over-homogenization. Here the solution was to find a new sweet spot for optimum product quality and stability by lowering the pressure from 135 to 110 bar.

Kouroutsidis explains: “In these cases it’s very important to measure the fat globule size distribution directly after homogenization, which is something Tetra Pak offers free of charge.”

In addition, the counter pressure was too high, with a 10 bar back pressure after stage one even though stage two was set to 0 bar.

Correlating this line pressure with extra shear results in too much shearing on the fat globules. This can damage them after homogenization, causing free fat dispersion and more agglomeration in the package.

Tetra Pak therefore recommended the removal of stage two.

Together the actions improved product stability, with no visual creaming after 12 days – and the customer was able to resume deliveries with minimal disruption and no long-term loss of business.

More about avoiding common homogenization mistakes

Read article "Five tips for avoiding common homogenization mistakes" to find out more about common homogenization mistakes and how to avoid them,

Related articles

Tetra Pak employees looking at an iPad

Unique warranty for ten years' peace of mind

While most manufacturers don’t even have a five-year warranty, Tetra Pak offers customers a full ten years’ peace of mind.

An overview image of a homogenization flow

The secret to large homogenizer cost savings

Interested in cutting the size of your homogenizer investment by more than half while slashing your running costs by nearly 75%? Tetra Pak shows you how.

Screenshot of animation of Tetra Pak Homogenizer HD Energy IQ

Homogenization: how to make a smart investment

Watch this video to find out why Tetra Pak Homogenizers give you the lowest total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the equipment.


Homogenization is used to achieve a variety of different results: to prevent a cream line and sedimentation in milk products; to improve the viscosity, taste and texture of cream or juice-based drinks, to improve the mouth feel of soy beverages, and to prevent the separation of the whey in yoghurt.​