Ben & Jerry's Israel CEO plans new production site after parting with Uniliver

Avi Zinger says given green light to produce, market locally under brand name after Uniliver board yields to BDS demands to stop selling ice cream in West Bank

Navit Zomer|
After parting ways with Ben & Jerry's global brand and receiving special approval to independently sell the brand's products in Israel, Ben & Jerry’s Israel CEO Avi Zinger is establishing a new factory in Kiryat Gat, planned to span 19 dunams (over 3.5 acres) with an investment of 130 million shekels.
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The current factory, located in Be'er Tuvia and occupying has been operational for 20 years, reaching its full production capacity. The new and larger facility will enable Zinger to realize his vision and introduce additional products to the Israeli market.
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גלידה בן אנד ג'ריס
גלידה בן אנד ג'ריס
Ben & Jerry's ice cream
(Photo: Reuters)
"Now I can do what I want," Zinger told Ynet. "I plan to expand the brand into other ice cream products, with the aim of increasing my market share in the ice cream industry, currently standing at 12%. I hold 49% of the ice cream pint market in Israel. The Strauss and Nestle groups tried to compete with us and failed. Our brand has always been popular among young people, but 60% of the ice cream market in the country consists of ice cream bars and popsicles, which I’m not involved in yet.
"I will expand the product variety so that it makes sense for retailers to only use Ben & Jerry’s coolers. We will also expand the pastry division, which produces pretzels, Belgian waffles, and blintzes – all while using natural ingredients and maintaining our brand values. Additionally, we will establish a large visitor center. In Vermont, U.S., the Ben & Jerry's visitor center is considered the best tourist site."
Following pressure from the BDS movement, Unilever’s autonomous board, headed by Chair Anuradha Mittal, yielded and demanded to stop selling the brand's products in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Zinger, opting to fight the parent company’s decision, caused some investors in the brand to rethink their investment in the company.
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Avi Zinger
Avi Zinger
Avi Zinger
Subsequently, Unilever — in an unusual move — decided to sell Zinger the right to independently use the brand in Israel, allowing him to continue marketing the ice cream even in Israeli settlements.
Recently, Mittal’s name surfaced again when she wrote a post on her X account (formerly Twitter) saying the American government should stop supporting Israel, which according to her commits genocide, and called on the International Criminal Court to take action against Israel for war crimes.
"I haven't given interviews since my victory," Zinger said. "But people don't understand the complex situation I'm in. There are people in the settlements and customers who want to boycott the products because of her posts and don't understand that I'm Ben & Jerry's Israel and no longer affiliated with the global Ben & Jerry's brand.”
“I'm an entirely Israeli brand and need customers’ support,” he added. “Customers told my distributors, 'You’re Hamas supporters,' and I have to prove I don’t. This comes after the Jewish community in the U.S. rallied for my cause. I managed to put Unilever in unprecedented global positions. I've been with the brand for 35 years and won't give up on it. I was restricted about the product I sold due to contact with them; now I'm free and looking ahead."
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