Ben & Jerry’s has spoken out against its own parent company’s decision to sell the ice cream maker’s brand in Israel to an Israeli company that agrees to continue selling the products in Israel and the West Bank.
“Although our parent company made this decision, we disagree,” the Vermont frozen treat maker said. said on social mediahours after Unilever announced it would sell its Israeli business interests in Ben & Jerry’s to Israeli company American Quality Products Ltd.
We are aware of Unilever’s announcement. Although our parent company made this decision, we do not endorse it.
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) June 29, 2022
Ben & Jerry’s statement also provided additional information about the business arrangement, noting that the company itself would no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s sales in Israel. The amount of the sale was not disclosed by either party, and Ben & Jerry’s did not say whether it believed Unilever breached the terms of their acquisition agreement by bypassing the board in Israel. or whether the brand would seek further action against its parent company.
“We continue to believe that it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the brand said in its statement.
Unilever made the decision after nearly a year of backlash from pro-Israel groups, following the announcement by Ben & Jerry’s semi-autonomous board that it would no longer sell ice cream in the “occupied Palestinian territories” following Israel’s actions in Gaza last summer. American Quality Products has been the brand’s Israeli distributor since 1987, before Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever in 2000, and has refused to comply with its demands to stop selling ice cream in West Bank settlements.
The retailer then sued Unilever in US court in an attempt to pressure the company to keep its licensing rights. Several US states had also withdrawn hundreds of millions of dollars from public pension funds from the British conglomerate, citing laws preventing them from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.
Unilever insisted for months that it had no jurisdiction over Ben & Jerry’s decision until it abruptly changed course this week, saying that while the board reserved the right to make decisions about the brand’s “social mission”, its parent company “reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter into this arrangement.
The Anti-Defamation League, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and other outside parties played a role in Unilever negotiations after the ice cream fair became an international referendum on boycotts of Israel in the business world. Unilever’s announcement this week was hailed by pro-Israel groups, many of which echoed American Quality Products CEO Avi Zinger in calling it “a victory over discrimination.”