Blue Bell Creamery is set to return their products to retail freezers by the end of August.
The ice cream company halted its entire production in March due to a listeria outbreak in several facilities including Broken Arrow. Stores were informed to remove all Blue Bell products from shelves to control the spread of the outbreak.
More than 1,450 employees were laid off in the last six months. The company found a way to survive with the financial backing of Texas entrepreneur Sid Bass.
“The additional capital will ensure the successful return of our ice cream to the market and our loyal customers,” said Blue Bell President and CEO Paul Kruse.
Blue Bell announced a trial run production in its smallest facility in Sylacauga, Alabama last month after passing inspection from the Department of Public Health.
“Our return will include parts of 15 states,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ricky Dickson. “But it will take some time as we work to restart operations at our production facilities.”
According to Advertising and Public Relations Manager Joe Robertson, Blue Bell will be bringing furloughed workers every week starting with the Alabama plant.
“It’s kinda like trying to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool with a single garden hose,” said Dickson. “It can be done, it’s just gonna take time.
Kroger, Publix and H-E-B, a large grocery chain in Texas, has been calling Blue Bell to learn when they can have the ice cream back on their shelves. They are hopeful to restock Blue Bell products by September.
“Our plan is to return to store shelves in five phases,” said Dickson. “This first phase will begin Monday, Aug. 31.”
The trucks leaving the Alabama plant are heading for the company’s 50 distribution centers. From there, Blue Bell drivers will personally deliver and restock the shelves for retailers.
“This is an exciting time for us,” said Dickson. “As we are back doing what we love, that’s making ice cream.”