Blue Bell Creameries says it will expand the availability of its ice cream throughout the South.

Blue Bell has announced it will enter the fifth phase of its market re-entry plan on Jan. 18. Ice cream will be available in stores in middle and eastern Tennessee, the northern sections of Alabama and Georgia and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

On Jan. 25, the market will be expanded to include all of Florida, southern Georgia and the southern tip of South Carolina.

Blue Bell in April suspended ice cream manufacturing at all of its plants after Listeria was found in some of its products. It has been slowly reopening its factories and expanding its market area.

“Our fans in phase five have been waiting on this news for a long time,” said Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell.

“We will begin filling stores on Jan. 18, but due to the size of the area and the number of stores to be serviced, it will take additional time to deliver to all locations. All of us at Blue Bell are very thankful for the patience and support our customers have shown during this time.”

At the completion of this phase all of the company’s furloughed employees will have returned to work.

Prior to the fifth phase, Blue Bell will enter a “bonus phase” on Jan. 11 which includes the El Paso, Texas, Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., areas.

“Upon the completion of phase five, we will turn our attention to building inventory for the spring as well as adding additional products and flavors to our line-up.” Dickson said.

“Even though we do not have a specific date, we plan to expand our sales territory whenever we are properly positioned to do so.”

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