An occasional blog to accompany the business news on BBC Breakfast.

Monday, July 31, 2006

That takeover.

Ben & Jerry's was sold to the multinational food and detergents company Unilever six years ago for £200m. Some of you think that puts Ben & Jerry's ethical image in question.

Andrew Fox:

How can you be sure that Unilever looks after Ben and Jerry's in an ethical manner? In fact, is B&J still 'ethical' with such an owner? Has B&J influenced Unilever as a company elsewhere?

Anna B:

How do you think Unilever's ethicall standards compare to those of B&J? Have B&Js had to compromise their ethical standards since becoming part of Unilever?

Ben & Jerry's operates still as a semi-autonomous unit within Unilever. Customer should continue to push Ben & Jerry's to be ever more ethical and I think B&J has had a small but hopefully growing influence on Unilever. However it's clearly a case of a small tail trying to wag a very large dog.

When you say - small but growing influence - what can you point to? Where's the proof?

No proof, just a growing awareness of people within Unilever who come into contact with B&J who are captivated and motivated by a different way of doing business.

Jon Molyneux:
If Ben and Jerry's was truly ethical wouldn't all its franchises be set up as 'partnershop' social enterprise outlets? And what does Jerry think the ethical private sector can do to support the social enterprise sector?

We have a growing number and percentage of partner-shop enterprises. We hope to have even more. They tend to be more complex to open and to operate. But their social benefits are well worth it.


Blogger Thijs (Amsterdam) said...

Jerry, should national governements encourage (by which I mean subsidise), companies like Ben&Jerry's that uphold certain ethical standards?

7:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the blog was up as you said on your programme this morning at 7.23am ish. 30th July 2006.

I have a question for the guy from B&J. Why, after the takeover is the only B&J ice cream available all the boring chocolate and caramel sorts?

I love Chunky Monkey and this is never stocked in any of the supermarkets I have been in.

They have no plans to stock it either. My guess is, even if B&J are being ethical, the UK suparmarkets are only interested in best margin and the xost of Ice Cream with decent ingredients such as walnuts and bananas is more than the same old ones they buy.

Waitroses do sell the small tubs but not not the 500ml so they are still no help.

7:43 AM


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