new Class action It claims that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream misleads consumers into believing that their product is derived from the “happy cows” that “happy farmers” care for.
Instead, lead plaintiff James Eilers says that the world-famous ice cream is predominantly produced from milk produced in “factory-style and mass-produced dairy operations” of Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream was founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in Burlington, Vermont. The company was known for its social conscientiousness, contributing percentages of its revenue for various reasons, as well as its commitment to high environmental standards and humane agricultural practices in its own production.
In 2000, Cohen and Greenfield sold the company to Unilever, a multinational Anglo-Dutch food company. According to Ehlers’ complaint, the new owners failed to maintain Ben & Jerry’s previous high standards.
Take advantage of the reputation of the previous owners
Ehlers, a clean water activist from Colchester, Vermont, argues that Unilever is wrongly capitalizing on the well-deserved reputation that Cohen and Greenfield have achieved. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is still known for its high quality, but part of the reason people pay more for it is because they have supported the company’s commitment to social and environmental standards, says Ehlers.
Unilever has strengthened its marketing angle of “happy cows” through its use of “Caring Dairy” farms. But according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Vermont on October 29, only a minority of the milk and cream used to make ice cream comes from those farms. The rest, the lawsuit says, comes from mass production operations.
The Ehlers class action follows similar suits in A lawsuit filed in 2018 Against Unilever by the Organic Consumers Organization. In January, a Washington DC Supreme Court judge rejected Unilever’s request to dismiss the case, ruling that the case could continue on the basis of its merits. This lawsuit is still pending.
Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry’s products continue to use images of happy cartoon cows, along with green fields and blue skies.