Ben & Jerry’s iced out by parent company after years of self-inflicted headaches

Multinational conglomerate Unilever has “lost its taste” for the ice cream business, which doesn’t bode well for Ben & Jerry’s.

The owner of some 400 brands, Unilever is spinning off its ice cream business, which includes Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Magnum, Popsicle and Klondike, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company said on Tuesday that it plans to separate its ice cream division into a stand-alone business and that a sale is possible.

The move allows Unilever to rid itself of “a longtime headache,” Fox Business reported.

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Since its founding in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s has been known for its left-leaning advocacy, and the Vermont-based ice cream maker was able to maintain an independent board of directors to continue its progressive activism even after it sold to Unilever in 2000.

But in recent years, the unique structure of the deal that allowed Ben & Jerry’s to wade into controversial issues without interference has pulled Unilever into the fray, too.


The article noted that the “biggest lightning rod” occurred when Ben & Jerry’s announced in 2021 that it would no longer sell its products to Israelis in the West Bank, which the company refers to as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

The controversy drew accusations that Ben & Jerry’s was boycotting Israel as part of the boycott, divest, sanctions (BDS) movement, though the company denied it.

“Israel threatened to take action against Unilever over the move, and U.S. lawmakers called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch a probe into the parent company,” Fox Business reported.

“Unilever, which has repeatedly distanced itself from Ben & Jerry’s political takes and said it has never supported the BDS movement, sold the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream operations in Israel in June 2022 in an attempt to stem the controversy, but its subsidiary’s activism has continued to tarnish the brand and drag Unilever with it,” the network added.

Ben & Jerry’s angered many Americans last year with a tweet posted on Independence Day.

“This 4th of July, it’s high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it,” the tweet stated.

Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas and most recently North Carolina have divested their public employee retirement funds from Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s antics in Israel,

North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell told Fox Business earlier this year that Unilever likely did not anticipate so many headaches allowing Ben & Jerry’s to have its own board.

“I don’t know the people at Ben & Jerry’s. I respect their entrepreneurship. I think when they signed the contract, Ben & Jerry’s anticipated something like this,” Folwell said.

“Unilever didn’t anticipate anything like this,” he continued. “Generally, when a parent tells a kid not to do something, they expect them to listen.”

Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story, as seen on X:

Tom Tillison


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