update deskJewish & Israeli Culture

Ben & Jerry’s Israel to build new $35.5 million plant in Kiryat Gat

The factory will include a visitors center, flagship store and logistics center.

Ben & Jerry's berry sorbet on a chocolate-almond cone. Credit: Kate33/Shutterstock.
Ben & Jerry's berry sorbet on a chocolate-almond cone. Credit: Kate33/Shutterstock.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel will build a $35.5 million (130 million-shekel) factory in the new industrial zone of the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat.

The ice cream maker will transfer its 200 employees in the southern region to the 5-acre (20-dunam) plant, which is scheduled to open in 2026, Globes reported on Tuesday. It will replace the smaller manufacturing site in Beer Tuvia near Kiryat Malachi and about 12 miles north of Kirya Gat, which is 2.5 acres (10 dunams) in size.

More workers will be hired to handle the expanded production lines at the Kiryat Gat plant, which will include a visitors center, a flagship store and a logistics center.

“We have been leasing the factory in Kiryat Malachi for 12 years and in the past few years we have been looking for a new place suitable for our needs with options for significant enlargement. Today one of our bottlenecks is the warehousing area. As we grow, we have been forced to use external warehouses to store our inventory,” Ben & Jerry’s Israel CEO and owner Avi Zinger told the Israeli business news site.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel franchisee Avi Zinger. Photo by Eric Sultan.

“We will bring significant innovations in the food sector, and increase our market share,” Zinger pledged. Ben & Jerry’s currently claims a 50% family ice cream package market share in Israel. The company plans to expand to other products, including frozen desserts and ice cream cones.

It represents another win for Kiryat Gat, fresh off December’s announcement that Intel is investing $25 billion in an Israeli manufacturing facility there. The new Fab 38 factory is expected to begin operating in 2028 and to remain in operation at least until 2035. Intel already operates the Fab 28 plant in the city.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel is separate from the U.S. firm of the same name and its move is not related to the July 2021 decision by the U.S. Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling ice cream in Israeli territory over the 1949 armistice lines (“Green Line”). The Israeli company fought against the boycott when it was announced. In June 2022, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, British multinational food giant Unilever, announced that it had sold its Ben & Jerry’s division in Israel to American Quality Products.

In December, the chairwoman of Ben & Jerry’s board appeared to endorse the Hamas terrorists who committed the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in southern Israel.

“When people are occupied resistance is justified!” wrote Anuradha Mittal on social media. She tagged the post with “Free Palestine” and “ceasefire now.”

Zinger said that Americans want to visit the factory in Israel because they are upset at the decision by the Vermont company to boycott eastern Jerusalem and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“After all the commotion caused, and the support we received from American communities, it became one of the landmarks of their visit to Israel,” he said.

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