Ben & Jerry's long list of controversies (2024)

Ben & Jerry's appears to be the next company in line to face the full force of a customer boycott, seemingly for a number of reasons.

Just like Bud Light and Target have found out in 2023, consumers have the power to affect the profitability and stock prices of a company, and Ben & Jerry's stock price, or at least for its parent company Unilever, has fallen recently amid boycott calls.

While Bud Light faced backlash stemming from its collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, and Target similarly for launching a collection of Pride themed clothing, Ben & Jerry's controversy is more complicated.

Ben & Jerry's long list of controversies (1)

So why are people now calling for a boycott of an ice cream brand?

Its 'Bud Light Moment'

On the Fourth of July, the Twitter account for Ben & Jerry's marked the occasion by noting to its half a million followers that America "exists on stolen Indigenous land." Ben & Jerry's announced it was committed to returning it.

The tweet sparked fury amongst some online who immediately called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry's. Popular conservative social media presence Jordan Peterson led the rallying cry, retweeting the message and writing: "Looks like someone is looking hard for a Bud Light moment."

Further accusations of Ben & Jerry's going "woke" followed, similar to how Bud Light, Disney and Target have faced the wrath of consumers who use the hashtag #GoWokeGoBroke.

Stance on Ukrainian Weapons

In March 2023, one of Ben & Jerry's founders, Ben Cohen, shocked many by speaking out against the U.S. providing military aid to Ukraine.

People's Power Initiative, a group headed and funded by Cohen, launched the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN). Edward Erikson, a campaign manager for People's Power Initiative, told Newsweek about Cohen's personal stance.

"He's pro peace," Erikson said. "He's been pretty clear on condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine and Russia's war of aggression, but he's also been clear that the U.S. should use its full power to push for diplomacy and an end of suffering for both Ukraine and the Russian citizens as quickly as possible."

Cohen himself said in a statement: "I think the U.S. should use its power to negotiate an end to the war, not prolong the death and destruction by supplying more weapons."

The news has led to calls for boycott on Twitter, with some people calling Ben & Jerry's "woke" and "fascist."

Pulling Out of Palestinian Territories

In July 2021, it was would no longer sell its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory after 2022, in a press release posted to its website.

"We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry's ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region," a statement on the company website read. "We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year."

It was seen as the company's intention not to support Israel's occupation of Palestine. Ben & Jerry's was responding to concerns raised by a group called Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, according to the Associated Press.

At the time, Kelly Tyko, writing for USA Today, called it "one of the strongest and highest-profile rebukes by a well-known company of Israel's policy of settling its citizens on war-won lands."

Migrant Children Exploited in the U.S.

In February 2023, Ben & Jerry's was accused by The New York Times of being one of many companies profiting from migrant children in the United States.

A NY Times investigation found "migrant children are exploited across the U.S., processing for major brands and retailers." Amongst the list of accused companies were Ben & Jerry's, Cheerios, Cheetos, Ford, General Motors, Target, Walmart and Whole Foods.

Ben & Jerry's responded to The New York Times article with a statement on its website. "We are deeply concerned by the claims made in this story, and do not tolerate any suppliers who are not adhering to the law. Let us be extremely clear: Ben & Jerry's stands in strong opposition to child labor," it wrote, going on to discuss its history of work preventing such exploitation.

Read more

  • No, Antisemitism Isn't Backed by the Constitution
  • Is Ben and Jerry's HQ built on Abenaki tribal land? What we know

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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