Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, has announced that it has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), the current Israel-based licensee. The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee.
The deal comes following Ben & Jerry’s and its independent Board’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank, which they considered to be an occupied Palestinian territory. The move sparked backlash from Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups, who accused the company of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation and human rights violations against Palestinians.
Unilever said that it has used the past year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive matter and believes this is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. The company also said that it has consulted with the Israeli government over several months and that it rejects any form of discrimination or intolerance, including antisemitism.
Unilever also reaffirmed its commitment to its business in Israel, which employs around 2,000 people of diverse backgrounds and works with a network of around 2,000 local suppliers and service providers. The company said that it has invested more than 1 billion Shekels (around €250 million) in its business in Israel over the last decade and that it hopes that Israelis and Palestinians can reach a peaceful resolution of their conflict.