Ben & Jerry’s talks with Unilever over Israeli sales dispute fall through


Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever said talks were broken off to resolve their dispute over the sale of the ice cream maker’s Israeli business, which would allow its products in the occupied West Bank.

In a letter to US District Judge Andrew Carter in Manhattan, a lawyer for Ben & Jerry’s said a two-week arbitration to settle out of court had proved unsuccessful.

He asked Carter to defer Ben & Jerry’s request for an injunction to prevent Unilever from selling the Israeli ice cream business to local licensee Avi Zinger.

According to Unilever, the sale closed on June 29 and cannot be reversed. A lawyer for Unilever said in a separate letter to Judge Carter that the company was prepared to hear the proposed injunction.

Reuters reported last week that the talks had collapsed.

Ben & Jerry’s sued Unilever, which has owned the Vermont-based company since 2000, on July 5.

It claimed that by selling the Israeli business, Unilever had broken its promise to let the maker of Half Baked, Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey protect its trademark.

Ben & Jerry’s announced in July 2021 that it would stop selling ice cream in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories because it was “incompatible” with its values.

Israel condemned the move, and some investors sold their Unilever stock and bonds.

Most countries consider Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal.

Unilever said Ben & Jerry’s has the right to make its own decisions about this mission.

The fight tests how far Unilever gives its brands the freedom to have social missions.

Unilever has more than 400 brands, including Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr soup and Vaseline skin lotion. Ben & Jerry’s talks with Unilever over Israeli sales dispute fall through

Fry Electronics Team

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