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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Welcome back

We're talking about ethical business today.

Would you pay more for a product that says it causes less harm to the environment than its rivals, or pays more to the people in developing nations who help produce it, or comes from a company with strict policies on sustainable sourcing or human rights? In other words - when it comes to green business, do you put your money where your mouth is?

Or do you think this is no business - of real business? Or that any talk about "ethical business" is just warm words and waffle?

We're spending the morning on this with Jerry Greenfield - he's the Jerry of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It has put long-term sustainability at the heart of its business since it was founded in 1978. But it sold itself to the multinational food giant Unilever six years ago - critics said that was a sell-out.

As ever, we welcome your comments - on air and online.



Anonymous Chris L, South London said...

I have a question for Jerry.

How does ethical business improve the lives of the workers in such businesses? Do B&J workers enjoy higher wages, better conditions, union rights etc?

6:34 AM

Blogger cowboyshaw said...

i think we already pay a high price for products that aren't environmentally friendly. health problems, waste disposal costs and reduced living standards are all costs that aren't included in the product price, but are instead externalised - we end up paying for them sooner or later.

6:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do we know that firms such as supermarkets are telling us the truth that they are trading ethically, I'm thinking specifically about Tesco,who change specifications but the costs are borne by the suppliers thereby the workers suffer.

6:46 AM

Anonymous Chris D, Stoke said...

Why should people be paying for the faults of capitalism and big business like pollution and exploitation? The consumers did not cause these.

7:02 AM

Anonymous andrew fox said...

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?

7:02 AM

Anonymous Anna B said...

I have a question for Jerry:

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

7:02 AM

Anonymous Jon Molyneux said...

If Ben and Jerry's was truly ethical wouldn't all its franchises be set up as 'partnershop' social enterprise outlets? And what more does Jerry think the ethical private sector can do to support the non-profit-distributing social enterprise sector - where ethics and social reponsibility truly are at the heart of the business and not just a PR-drive add-on?

7:03 AM

Blogger hughmcateer said...

Why cant I buy my all time favourite ice cream in Scottish supermarkets. Ben & Jerrys is readily available but not "Chunky Monkey" which is destined to be only a holiday treat.
Please educate the large supermarkets to stock this prince of ice creams

7:22 AM

Anonymous Eamonn Doyle said...

Your companies move into foreign markets brings with new challenges for your company as you are now a major polluter who is contributing to global warming as the environmental costs of the movement of goods are the world, rather than being sourced locally, is extremely high.

Do you recognise this as a problem and if so how are Ben and Jerry's going to tackle this?

7:31 AM

Blogger ACDoty said...

My guess is that B&J substantially increased its distribution by becoming part of Unilever. Is this correct?

7:49 AM


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