Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Storm in an icy cup

It’s seldom that we see brands mix business with politics. But Ben & Jerry’s, an American ice-cream business bought by Unilever in 2000, has kicked up a firestorm by withdrawing sales from the West Bank and Gaza, as these are territories occupied by Israel. Selling here would be “inconsistent" with its values, said the brand’s management, which had sold out to the multinational on the condition that it would retain its freedom over customer engagement. Its decision seems aimed at appealing to a global ‘woke’ audience, as it has done all along, who it may have reckoned would cheer.

Israel isn’t amused. Its Prime Minister has warned of “serious repercussions", and Unilever’s top brass has apparently had to go into damage-control mode, lest it’s lumped with a bill to pay for the quirky streak of a brand that attained fame for the premium it charged for its dairy-friendly procurement policies at one level and impishly named flavours (think Cherry Garcia) at another. The brand established that our price-value equations could vary. Whether it will still be available in Israel is unclear, as Ben & Jerry’s chair Anuradha Mittal’s words are at odds with Unilever’s on this matter. Ears are out for a corporate scoop.

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