Unilever has announced that the legal dispute with its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s about sales on the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel has been resolved. It seems that the ice cream brand had to cave.
Still in the West Bank
The dispute lasted more than a year, but went to the core of Ben & Jerry’s values, the ice cream brand stated. “Unilever is pleased to announce that the dispute with the independent board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s has been resolved”, a press release said rather succinctly. The company does not say more, but the licensee (and central figure in this case) is jubilant with his victory.
“Nothing will be changing from the agreement I made with Unilever earlier this year”, Avi Zinger told Bloomberg. The retailer will be able to continue to produce and sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream under the Hebrew and Arab brand names throughout Israel and the West Bank for the long term, he says.
Yet this is exactly what the activist ice cream brand wanted to avoid. Ben & Jerry’s, which also supports LGBTQ+ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, decided in 2021 to stop selling ice cream in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, such as the West Bank.
Cold shower for Ben & Jerry’s?
This decision was particularly difficult for certain Jewish investors to accept, so Unilever then sold the distribution rights in Israel to local licensee Avi Zinger. This in turn went against the promised independent management and the brand image, the rebellious daughter brand said, and it sued its owner.
Unilever won the first court case, but in September Ben & Jerry’s tried once again to prevent sales in Israel. A settlement now seems to have been reached, but not, on the face of it, one in which the ice cream producer gets its way.