From the Ground Up - Blue Bell’s Impact on Agriculture

By: KBTX Staff Email
By: KBTX Staff Email

If you happened to enjoy a dip or two of Blue Bell ice cream during your Fourth Of July activities, you might be surprised by the amount of agricultural inputs it takes to make your favorite flavor. Kailey Carey takes a look at Blue Bell’s impact on agriculture in this week’s From The Ground Up.

“We’re dependent on the dairymen to produce wholesome, fresh dairy products and milk for us to make our ice-cream. Here in Brenham for our production requirements we get ten to twenty tankers of raw milk a day and we also get three to five loads of creams a day, cream tankers.”

A tanker holds 50,000 pounds of milk. Mark Patranella is the manager of purchasing and receiving for Blue Bell.
“We have 3000 employees company-wide, plus the 60,000 cows that work for us.”

But it takes a lot more than cows to make ice-cream.
“The majority of the fruits that we purchase are strawberries and peaches. Strawberries, we purchase in excess of 5 million strawberries a year. Peaches, close to a million pounds of peaches per year. You know, we have several hundred thousand pounds of cherries and other fruits that we buy. Nuts are very big in the production of ice-cream, pecans, almonds, we source several hundred thousand pounds of almonds and pecans. We also purchase peanuts and walnuts, sugar sourced from sugar cane, sugar beets, we also buy a lot of corn sweeteners.”

Blue Bell makes most of their baked ingredients, and that takes even more agricultural products.

“We also buy a tremendous amount of flour for our bakery operation. We’re now not only making our own cookies, but we also make sandwich wafers, as well as the cones for our cone products. We have also gotten to the point where we will make cookie dough, and we make pie crust.”

You can’t get Blue Bell everywhere.
“Even though we’re only in 20 states, we’re the third largest branded name of ice cream in the country, with the top 2 being national distribution in all 50 states.”

The next time you’re enjoying some Blue Bell, think about the many agricultural producers that contributed to making it. I’m Kailey Carey, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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