Food News

Ben & Jerry’s will ‘end sales of our ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’

"We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)," the company shared in a statement.

Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry's. Ben & Jerry's

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 “longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”

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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 won’t be cut off from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for good, though. The company noted that it will stay in Israel “through a different arrangement” outside the OPT, and that updates will be available when they’re ready.

Ben & Jerry’s has received increasing backlash for its ties to Israel, including Decolonize Burlington’s national call out to boycott the brand. The calls to divest from the region received renewed vigor during the deadly Israeli-Palestine conflict in May, when the Israeli government launched an attack on the Gaza Strip and Hamas and other militant groups fired rockets into Israel. On May 18, an innocuous post from the company about mint ice cream resulted in a flood of criticism about their operations in Israel, prompting Ben & Jerry’s to go silent on social media for two months.

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Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, responded to the ice cream brand’s announcement 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.”

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