Ben and Jerry’s – ice cream’s no longer “all natural” thanks to Unilever

Ben and Jerry's - no longer "natural"

Since Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever bought out Ben and Jerry’s in 2000, though there was lip service about no changes being made was given for the sake of long-standing customers, such sadly has proven to be just that – lip service. 

Washington-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has taken issue with the Vermont-based ice cream maker over it’s now present suspect ingredients which include the likes of alkalised cocoa, corn syrup and  partially hydrogenated soya bean oil. 

The watchdog group says these ingredients are not natural but either chemically modified or simply don’t exist in nature. “Calling products with unnatural ingredients ‘natural’ is a false and misleading use of the term.” 

In response, Ben & Jerry’s has agreed to remove the term “natural” from its product descriptions. The ice-cream company’s chief executive, Jostein Solheim, said in a letter to the CSPI that though he believed “reasonable customers” would still consider Ben & Jerry’s food to be natural, he didn’t want any further questions over the issue. 

We have decided to remove these claims and focus more strongly on our other core values,” wrote Solheim, including the company’s efforts  use fair-trade suppliers, cage-free eggs and milk from family farms that don’t use bovine growth hormones. 

Really, Mr. Solheim. Educated ice cream lovers know the difference between natural and what isn’t. As learned wisdom says, if it’s got long words in the ingredients, it’s probably NOT natural. Fans of Ben and Jerry’s have come to count on the long trusted brand to be what it always has been. 

Except now it’s not. 

Another old saying says just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should. Adding non-natural ingredients to a trusted brand may not have been the wise choice. Ice cream fans will be voting with their dollars. 

Ice cream is one of America’s favorite pleasures, a guilty vice for some (including this writer). And ice cream icon Ben and Jerry’s has been one of our top indulgences for years. But that could change.

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8 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I went to high school with both Ben and Gerry. They graduated a year ahead of me. Although I was not a friend of their’s, I always followed their career.

    I did call on various ice cream distributors that sold their products. Many of them had met the two of them. They alway’s had great things to say about them and their products.

    I am sure B & J are not happy with what big business did to their ice cream. But, that’s the nature of big business.

  2. Don’t you find it awesome that little by little, big companies are making an effort to make trade fair? Check out this YouTube video of Ben and Jerry’s founders being interviewed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsnEr9DgZTI. it’s also on the GreenopolisTV website!

    • I suppose it’s all about balance. And I’m very glad Ben & Jerry’s has made yet another commitment to social responsibility with their commitment to sourcing Fair Trade ingredients for their products. Now if they would also re-include organic in the mix. I’ve wondered lately – with a few corporations talking big talk about their social commitment and incorporating Fair Trade, why organic hasn’t been mentioned. Interesting missing piece, isn’t it?

  3. Magnificent goods from you, man. Ben and Jerrs ice creams no longer all natural; thanks to Unilever Envirothink I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just too magnificent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to read much more from you

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