US – Unilever-owned ice cream and dairy brand, Ben & Jerry’s has lost its petition to stop its parent company Unilever’s deal with Avi Zinger which allows its ice cream to continue being sold in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In the ruling, the US judge said the ice cream company had “failed to demonstrate” that the move to sell the goods in the Israeli-occupied settlements caused it “irreparable harm.”

Ben & Jerry’s which filed the case in the US District Court in Manhattan, was seeking to stop Unilever from violating the terms of its merger and shareholders agreement, “to preserve the status quo and protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building.”

In the filing, the Cookie Dough ice-cream maker said Unilever’s decision “was made without the consent of Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors, the entity contractually empowered with protecting Ben & Jerry’s brand.”

In that matter, the US district court Judge in Manhattan ruled that the idea the company’s messaging could be marred, or customers could become confused about its core values was “too speculative.

The decision to pull Ben & Jerry’s from Israel was a significant play on account that in July last year, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer sell its ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian territories saying it was “inconsistent” with its values.

However, it said it would keep selling its products in Israel to maintain its overall global sales that were primarily bolstered by the high-performing ice cream category.

The decision was met with lots of criticism from Israeli politicians who reacted furiously, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling it a “disgraceful capitulation” to anti-Semitism and BDS.

The decision also led to more than half a dozen states including Texas, New York, and Florida divesting their pension fund investments in Unilever.

According to market analysts, Unilever had to consider the deal with American Quality Products Ltd (AQP), although may have violated the two parties’ original merger and shareholder agreement, in order to shield itself from any more pullbacks.

Meanwhile, the Israeli license-holder, Avi Zinger, has continued to produce the ice cream in his factory in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and distribute it to the Israeli settlements.

In the agreement, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream would be sold by Mr. Zinger under its Hebrew and Arabic names, and not under its English names.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro-industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE.