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Unilever settles dispute with Ben & Jerry’s over Israeli sales

Avi Zinger, the ice cream's Israel franchise holder, celebrates the announcement.

Workers at the Ben and Jerry's Israel factory near Kiryat Malachi, July 21, 2021. Photo by Flash90.
Workers at the Ben and Jerry's Israel factory near Kiryat Malachi, July 21, 2021. Photo by Flash90.

Unilever plc announced on Thursday that its legal battle with the independent board of its wholly-owned autonomous subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, over the brand’s sale of ice cream in Israel, has been resolved.

The Vermont-based ice cream company announced in July 2021 that it would not renew the Israeli franchise agreement for the following year, saying that the sale of its ice cream in Judea and Samaria, commonly called the West Bank, was inconsistent with the brand’s values. This was met with a class-action lawsuit by a U.S. shareholder and countered by moves to divest from Unilever by U.S. several states such as New York and Illinois.

In June, the British consumer goods conglomerate sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to local licensee Avi Zinger for an undisclosed sum. Ben & Jerry’s responded by filing a lawsuit against its parent company Unilever in an attempt to block the sale.

In an updated lawsuit filed in September, Ben & Jerry’s said it was seeking damages and wanted the trademarks returned. The brand also asked a judge to stop Zinger from selling the ice cream in the West Bank.

Unilever’s announcement of the settlement was met with praise by Zinger.

“I am pleased that the litigation between Unilever and the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s has been resolved,” he said. 

“There is no change to the agreement I made with Unilever earlier in the year. I look forward to continuing to produce and sell the great tasting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream under the Hebrew and Arabic trademarks throughout Israel and the West Bank long into the future,” said Zinger.

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