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Jun 29 2022June 29, 2022
Unilever announced Wednesday that it has sold its Ben & Jerry’s subsidiary in Israel to American Quality Products, a longtime distributor of the ice cream in the region. The sale comes after years of controversy around Ben & Jerry’s operations in the country.
The ice cream giant’s Israeli business was sold for an undisclosed amount. According to Unilever, the deal it reached with AQP allows the ice cream to be sold throughout Israel and the West Bank but using its Hebrew and Arabic names and with no ties to Unilever.
Ben & Jerry’s had announced last summer that it would stop sales entirely in the West Bank due to Israeli occupation of the area. The moved sparked backlash from the Israeli government and its supporters, who characterized it as antisemitic. It also prompted AQP to sue the company for “unlawfully terminating” a long-running contact between the two businesses.
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Ben & Jerry’s independent board, which is tasked with upholding the company’s “social mission, brand integrity and product quality,” criticized Unilever’s decision to sell to AQP. In an Instagram post Wednesday, the board wrote, “We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the company’s founders, expressed their support for pulling Ben & Jerry’s out of the West Bank in a New York Times op-ed last July. “[I]t’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government,” they wrote.
Despite opposition from the founders and independent board members, Unilever’s acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry’s allows the parent company to make decisions regarding finances and operations.
Unilever’s decision to sell follows a year-long company review of Ben & Jerry’s in Israel after the initial announcement to pull the ice cream out of the West Bank. According to Unilever, it “has 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 company says that opinions from Israeli government officials were also considered.
The sale of other Unilever products continues in Israel.
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Kori Skillman recently earned a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, with a focus on visual craft and short documentary. She also holds degrees in journalism and international business from San Diego State University. Kori worked this year as a press intern at the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
Email: [email protected]
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