The Reason Ben & Jerry's Is Suing Parent Company Unilever

Ben & Jerry's ice cream was founded in a renovated Burlington, Vermont gas station in 1978, according to their website. They are best known for their unique, outside-the-box flavors and their corresponding names like "Oat of This Swirled," "Whiskey Biz," and "Phish Food" (via Ben & Jerry's).

Unilever acquired Ben & Jerry's in 2000, but the Ben & Jerry's board remained independent, according to a New York Times article at the time of the sale. The brand has a long-standing history of speaking out about social and political issues — they released the flavor "Pecan Resist" to promote equality and inclusivity, and they partnered with Colin Kaepernick to release "Change the Whirled," which donates proceed to the Know Your Rights Camp (via Ben & Jerry's).

Now, Ben & Jerry's is suing their parent company in an attempt to halt sales in Israel and Palestine after initially facing backlash regarding the discontinuation of the sales last year, according to Reuters.

The board voted to sue

The Ben & Jerry's board voted 5-2 to sue Unilever to "protect the brand and social integrity," according to The Guardian. The outlet reports that the two board members who voted against the suit were appointed by Unilever. This decision comes after Unilever reached a deal to resume sales of the ice cream in Israel and Palestine, though under a different brand name. Unilever reportedly planned to sell the Ben & Jerry's Israeli business to Avi Zinger, head of American Quality Products, which would repackage and distribute Ben & Jerry's ice cream for sale throughout Israel and Palestine, per Reuters.

Through the suit, Ben & Jerry's hopes to block the sale, reports The Guardian. They previously worked with Zinger for three decades and were sued for refusing to renew the sales license in July 2021. An agreement regarding that suit was reached just last week.

Though Unilever did not release its own statement regarding the suit, according to Reuters, a lawyer for Zinger stated "It's a done deal."