Ben & Jerry’s, the U.S. ice cream maker, has announced that it’s relaunching its products without bio-engineered ingredients this year, stating a commitment to go GMO free. The company received enormous backlash from its consumers when it donated more than $450,000 to try to defeat the California GMO labeling ballot. Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
In Europe Ben & Jerry’s is produced without GMO ingredients. The company announced that it intended to complete the U.S. GM free transition in 2014.
The company has hyped ingredient transparency and supported I-522, the Washington state initiative to require labeling for food and beverage products with bio-engineered ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s was also a leading supporter in the Vermont legislative efforts this year making the state the first in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified foods. Nevertheless the Organic Consumer Association is calling for a boycott of all Ben & Cherry’s products as the Grocery Manufacturers Association is currently suing the State of Vermont over the genetically modified bill.
The switch to non genetically modified ingredients is having a domino effect as other companies are following suite to remain in business. The Oregon cherry producer that supplies ingredients for Cherry Garcia switched from genetically modified beet sugar to cane sugar to retain Ben & Jerry’s as a customer.