After ceasing operations in April / May to clean up their operation in light of product being linked to cases of Listeriosis, Blue Bell Ice Cream will run a trial production run in their Alabama facility.
The costs of this contamination event will be tremendous. First and foremost, are the people who contracted Listeria and their associated costs. Then the legal fees. The cost to the people who were laid off or furloughed (roughly 1,400 in each category). The company also has the cost of the recall and the lost revenues for 4 months of product. Then there will be costs associated with resuming production....costs of improvements to the operation, retraining of employees, conducting trial runs, etc. Getting back into the market place will not be cheap....regaining freezer shelf-space (you don't think those retailers let that space go empty for 4 months), restarting a distribution system, etc. And then regaining sales....the loyal will be back, but many other will be hesitant or leery, while others have moved on to other brands....the lost customer is very difficult, if not impossible to recover.
And what if they find it again....certainly this has been the case in a number of facility-related contamination events......
Blue Bell To Begin Trial Runs In July
July 8, 2015 1:34 PM
FORT WORTH (KRLD/CBSDFW.COM) – After a nearly four month absence from store shelves, Blue Bell ice cream could make a comeback before summer’s end.
The company will begin trial runs at its Sylacauga, Alabama plant during the week of July 20, as part of its plan to get the ice cream back in grocer’s freezers.
Based on the results of the test runs, a decision will be made about resuming production and getting the ice cream back in stores, but according to a statement from the company, there’s no timeline on when that might happen.
Blue Bell entered into an agreement with the Alabama State Health Department on June 1, indicating that it would alert the department when it was ready to resume production. The voluntary agreement calls for a trial production period before ice cream is distributed to consumers.
Blue Bell entered into similar agreements with the state health departments in Texas and Oklahoma, with the trial production period lasting at least two weeks in Texas. However, according to the Texas Department of Health, Blue Bell has not reported any plans to produce ice cream at the two Texas plants.
“We have been working diligently to prepare our facilities to resume test production, and our focus throughout this process has been to ensure the public that when our products return to market, they are safe,” said Greg Bridges, vice president of operations for Blue Bell, in a written statement. “We are very excited about taking these important first steps as part of the process of getting high-quality Blue Bell products back to consumers.”
Blue Bell voluntarily recalled all of its products in March, after some of its ice cream was found to be contaminated with listeria. Three people who ate the contaminated ice cream died and several others were sickened.