Ben & Jerry’s sues Unilever to block sale of Israeli business

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The Vermont-based mostly ice product maker submitted a complaint Tuesday in the US District Courtroom in New York, exactly where it sought an injunction towards Unilever (UL) “to defend the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has expended many years constructing.”

Ben & Jerry’s has been carrying out enterprise in Israel given that 1987, but in latest years it experienced arrive less than stress for providing in West Financial institution settlements, considered unlawful beneath international legislation. In July 2021, it announced it would end selling in the West Lender completely.

That induced a dispute with its longtime distributor in Israel, American Excellent Goods (AQP), which sued Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever in March, arguing that they have been “unlawfully terminating its 34-yr company romance in order to boycott Israel.”

Unilever, one of the world’s prime sellers of purchaser products together with Dove cleaning soap and Magnum ice product, tried to attract a line under the controversy with its announcement past week that it had bought Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business for an undisclosed sum to AQP.

The retail giant said that going forward, Ben & Jerry’s would be sold underneath its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Lender.

But that conclusion to market to AQP took the board of Ben & Jerry’s by surprise, in accordance to its courtroom submitting, which claimed that its chair had been “shocked” to hear the news.

Given that 2021, Ben & Jerry’s has been fiercely opposed to the sale of its items in the West Bank, saying that it would be “inconsistent with” the model.

In its complaint Tuesday, it mentioned that its brand values are legally overseen by an independent board of directors less than a 2000 agreement with Unilever.

The board determined to go after lawful motion final week at a meeting exactly where 5 administrators voted to authorize litigation, and two appointees from Unilever dissented, Ben & Jerry’s said.

Ben & Jerry's stops making ice cream in Israel. Its Israeli manufacturer is suing
In a assertion previous week, Unilever acknowledged that “Ben & Jerry’s and its unbiased board ended up granted legal rights to acquire choices about its social mission.”

But it maintained that the dad or mum corporation “reserved most important obligation for financial and operational conclusions, and hence has the suitable to enter this arrangement.”

In a new assertion Wednesday, a Unilever spokesperson reiterated that it “had the right to enter this arrangement.”

“The offer has already closed,” the representative said, incorporating that it would not remark on pending litigation.

In its assertion previous 7 days, Unilever reported that it had conducted a evaluate of its enterprise there “more than a number of months, which include with the Israeli government.”

“Unilever has made use of the option of the earlier year to listen to perspectives on this sophisticated and delicate subject and believes this is the ideal final result for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel,” it additional.

— Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

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