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Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever Unable To Settle Dispute Over Selling in Israel

Unilever Ben & Jerry’s

Unilever, the international food company, and its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, the world renowned brand of ice cream, have failed to reach an out of court settlement in their ongoing dispute. Ben & Jerry’s is suing its own parent company saying that the terms of ownership allow it to make its own decision on matters such as whether or not to license its ice cream to a specific country. As such, Ben & Jerry’s says that it can block Unilever’s deal to continue selling its product in Israel.

On this matter, Unilever’s chief executive Alan Jope slammed Ben & Jerry’s leadership for being “overzealous,” but not in so many words. Jope reportedly said in his company’s quarterly earnings call last week,”There is plenty for Ben & Jerry’s to get their teeth into in their social justice mission without straying into geopolitics.”

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So why is Ben& Jerry’s suing Unilever? Well, in the summer of 2021 Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would not renew the contract with the Israeli company that distributed it in the country. Why? Well, the Israeli company refused Ben & Jerry’s demand that it cease sales of its products in areas of the West Bank controlled by Israel.

This led to a major backlash against Unilever throughout the United States. Many American states even went so far as to divest their pension funds of Unilever stock and even to ban doing business with the company. And there were even lawsuits filed against the company for violating American laws that prohibit American firms from honoring the BDS anti-Israel movement.

So, in June Unilever caved and agreed to the compromise deal with Avi Zinger’s American Quality Products. According to the deal, Unilever sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger. But the agreement also stipulated that Ben & Jerry’s will only be sold in Israel under its Hebrew and Arabic names.

Explaining why it agreed to the deal, Unilever said that it had “used the opportunity of the past year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive matter and believes this is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. The review included extensive consultation over several months, including with the Israeli Government.”

But wait – there’s more!

Ben and Jerry’s insists that when it was sold to Unilever the company was left with autonomy “for safeguarding the integrity of the essential elements of the Ben & Jerry’s brand-name.” In other words, if the ice cream maker thinks that selling to Israel violates its values – whatever that means – Unilever cannot override their decision to boycott the country.



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