Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced Monday that it will no longer sell its ice cream in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” Ben & Jerry’s revealed in a statement. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
The statement noted that the company has a “long-standing partnership with our licensee, who makes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes them in the region. We have been working to change this and have therefore informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year. ”
Ben & Jerry’s has licensed a factory in Israel for more than three decades, shipping ice cream from the factory to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israelis will not miss Ben & Jerry’s ice cream forever. The company noted that it will stay in Israel “under a different arrangement” outside the OPT and that updates will be available when they are ready.
Ben & Jerry’s has received increasing reaction for its ties to Israel, including Decolonize Burlington’s national call to boycott the brand. Calls to divest the region received renewed vigor during the deadly Israeli-Palestinian conflict in May, when the Israeli government launched an attack on the Gaza Strip and Hamas and other militant groups fired rockets at Israel. On May 18, an innocuous company post about mint ice cream resulted in a barrage of criticism about its operations in Israel, prompting Ben & Jerry’s to remain silent on social media for two months.
Unilever, parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, responded to the ice cream brand’s ad on Monday.
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very complex and sensitive situation. As a global company, Unilever’s brands are available in more than 190 countries and in all of them, our priority is to serve consumers with essential products that contribute to their health, wellbeing and enjoyment.
We remain fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands and business for several decades.
Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever in 2000. As part of the acquisition agreement, we have always recognised the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions about its social mission. We also welcome the fact that Ben & Jerry’s will stay in Israel.”
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc., trading and commonly known as Ben & Jerry’s, is a Vermont-based company that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. Founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont, it was sold in 2000 to British conglomerate Unilever.