Ben & Jerry’s independent board said it won’t stop overseeing the “social mission” of the brand even if parent company Unilever Plc sells or spins off the ice cream unit. 

Unilever Ice Cream Sale Won’t Change Us, Says Ben & Jerry’s

There is a “firmly established framework” that will “remain intact” to protect the integrity of a brand known for promoting progressive causes, said the board, which has had a fractious relationship with Unilever in recent years. 

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Led by Anuradha Mittal, the board told Bloomberg News that it’s here to stay and has played a key role in driving growth at Ben & Jerry’s.

“This robust framework is the key to our consistent alignment with our values and has been instrumental in achieving a 400% growth since our merger with Unilever,” the board said. 

The move comes after Unilever said it wanted to shed its ice cream division, which generates around €8 billion in annual sales, in a bid to reverse years of lackluster performance. The soap-to-stock cube conglomerate has since also announced a plan to abandon or water down a string of environmental and social pledges. 

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Questions are already being asked about whether Ben & Jerry’s unique corporate governance structure, enshrined in the 2000 merger agreement, will survive the split. The original agreement had no provisions for what would happen to the board if the Anglo-Dutch group sold the brand. 

Ben & Jerry’s has long been defined by its “progressive social mission” and “we anticipate that the independent board will continue to guide this commitment,” a spokesperson for Unilever said. 

Ben & Jerry’s has campaigned on many societal changes some of which have engulfed Unilever in culture wars. In 2021, the board had a high profile clash with Unilever after the group sold the rights to Ben & Jerry’s Israel business to local distributor Avi Zinger. The board sued Unilever for breaching the merger agreement before settling confidentially in late 2022, allowing Ben & Jerry’s to operate in Israel as a separate entity. 

Read More: Ben & Jerry’s Israel Controversy Set Off Unilever Battle

Earlier this year, the board called for a cease-fire in Gaza. The UN Security Council later made a similar request, with the US abstaining.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Unilever Chief Executive Officer Hein Schumacher said Ben and Jerry’s is “of course is a very special case.”

“So the social mission of Ben & Jerry’s we’re not, I’m not disputing at all. In fact, I think it’s the one of the reasons that that brand has grown so successfully,” he said.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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