The Daily Telegraph

Ben & Jerry’s founders claim Unilever broke sale agreement

- By Laura Onita

THE co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s have said its owner Unilever “usurped their authority” by forcibly ending the ice cream brand’s boycott of Israel.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who set up their eponymous brand in 1978, said Unilever violated a 22-year-old merger deal with its actions involving Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business.

“That agreement gave authority over the social mission to the independen­t board of Ben & Jerry’s,” Mr Cohen said in an interview with MSNBC.

“Unilever has usurped their authority and reversed the decision that was made and we can’t allow that to happen, we can’t sit idly by.”

Ben & Jerry’s halted sales in Israeliocc­upied Palestinia­n territorie­s in July 2021, saying it was inconsiste­nt with its progressiv­e values.

However, Unilever overruled its subsidiary and sold Ben & Jerry’s local operations in Israel to a business partner, effectivel­y ending the boycott.

Unilever bought Ben & Jerry’s for $326m (£286m) in 2000. The FTSE 100 consumer goods giant agreed to give the ice cream brand independen­t control of its social mission.

Unilever has argued it retained the right to make operationa­l decisions for Ben & Jerry’s, and has said the sale could not be undone.

Ben and Jerry’s has sought an injunction to stop Unilever from selling its products in West Bank settlement­s, but a US judge said it “failed to demonstrat­e” these actions caused it “irreparabl­e harm”.

The co-founders are not on Ben & Jerry’s board and do not speak for the company. Unilever has been contacted for comment.

 ?? ?? Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder, said that Unilever had usurped the authority of the brand’s board
Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder, said that Unilever had usurped the authority of the brand’s board

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