Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s is taking its activism a step further with a new council dedicated to checking up on its industry impacts.
The Dairy Advisory Council will assist Ben & Jerry’s and make sure it adheres to its new ‘values-led dairy vision.’ The goal is to ensure that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s is sourced from high-quality farms. According to the vision, all the farms must have:
“Thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers; exceptional animal welfare standards for cows; a flourishing ecosystem in which feed is grown ecologically, without use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity; and, farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil.”
In the fall of 2018 Ben & Jerry’s introduced a limited edition flavor ‘Pecan Resist’ to protest the Trump administration and coincide with the US midterm elections. Through the campaign, the company donated $100,000 to four advocacy groups fighting injustice and harmful environmental practices.
Ben & Jerry’s created the Caring Dairy program in 2011 to support family farms in “sustainable agricultural practices, high-quality animal care and dignified conditions for farm workers.”
Earlier this year Ben & Jerry’s announced it would eliminate all single-use plastic from its scoop shops by the end of 2020, switching mostly to wooden spoons and paper straws. It also lists official company statements on the Ben & Jerry’s website regarding climate, refugees, migrant justice and Black Lives Matter, among others.
A council for accountability
Dave Rapaport, Ben & Jerry's Global Social Mission Officer, said "Our Values-led Dairy Vision is based on what our fans have a right to expect of us. While we're proud of the progress we've made over the past decade in helping farmers build soil health, improve animal welfare and increase the sustainability of their farms through our industry-leading Caring Dairy program, we know there is still a long way to go in achieving our vision.”
“This new, independent council will provide ideas and advice as we develop a long-term roadmap for our goals, with objectives and milestones along the way."
Ben & Jerry’s held its first council meeting this month, and said its six new members were chosen for their field expertise. They include organic farmers, professors, environmental advocates and other specialists.
The ice cream brand is continuing to innovate while navigating this new commitment, however. It recently announced three limited edition summer flavors coming to scoop shops--Toffee Break, Nutty Caramel Swirl and Caramel Crisp.
Cheryl Pinto, Ben & Jerry's Values-Led Sourcing Manager, said, "We expect this knowledgeable group of external stakeholders will keep us focused on our commitments and help us hold ourselves accountable.”
"We're proud of the work Vermont dairy farmers have done with Ben & Jerry's, and we know we have a long way to go to achieve our vision. Dairy farmers are facing increasingly complex issues and we recognize the need for the Council's advice and insight in helping us build a program which brings about beneficial outcomes for all."