I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that things happen in clear cycles. And it feels as if we are in the final stages of completing a major social mission cycle, a period of important accomplishments. Our Fairtrade and non-GMO ingredient conversions come to mind. And now we are starting the process of setting the stage for the next run of forward thinking initiatives. In many ways, 2013 was a year when we took great stock in recalibration. We’ve been driving hard over recent years on several levels of our “linked prosperity” business model, whether it’s delivering on current initiatives or redefining it for future achievements and growth. 2013 was a year in which we went deeper in defining what linked prosperity means and how we can improve the model into the future.
It’s a bottom up, side-to-side and top down process! Staff and management provided input on our Linked Prosperity business model during focused workshops in 2013. Our independent Board of Directors provide aspirational and constructive input on what Linked Prosperity means and how it might be actualized throughout our business.
Ben & Jerry’s performed well in 2013 but it was a grind-it-out year for everyone here. We rolled up our sleeves to do the hard work of redefining what we think our business model can accomplish to achieve linked prosperity throughout our business.
We worked hard to meet all three parts of our Mission Statement but realized that our ambitions can easily run up against unforeseen complexities.
What we did well:
- We put a lot into supporting a consumer’s right to know what’s in their food, in this case, GMO’s, relative to labeling initiatives around the USA. We had some moral victories in 2013, but more importantly, laid the groundwork for the bigger wins we need to see in 2014.
- We continued our global conversion to Fairtrade-certified ingredients and raised awareness for Fairtrade-certified benefits. We also welcomed into the fold Fairtrade America, the new licensing initiative in the USA that is under the Fairtrade International umbrella.
- Once again, we supported the next generation of social entrepreneurs through our Join Our Core program, expanding it in 2013 to nine countries.
- We continued our support for equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation by supporting same sex marriage in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.
- We continued the growth and harmonization within our Caring Dairy™ program for dairy farmers in Vermont and the Netherlands to hit year-on-year improvements.
- We fully engaged in a Better Dairy campaign supporting dairy cow welfare in Europe.
- We engaged in the growing Benefit Corporation (B Corp) community as a certified B Corp, which is recognized as the highest global standard for responsible corporate operations.
Where we could do better:
- We needed to recalibrate our Fairtrade conversion in 2013, which threw us off the original mark to be fully converted by the end of 2013. Our new goal is to complete the conversion in 2014. The logistics of converting over 140 ingredients in over 200 products simply kept challenging us, but we are feeling confident that we will have it completed in 2014.
- We fought hard to support a mandatory GMO labeling vote in the state of Washington, but the ballot item (I-522) ran out of steam at the finish line and was narrowly defeated. However, we are tightening our laces in 2014 to stay after mandatory labeling of GMO’s in our food because we believe that people have a right to know!
So, welcome to our 2013 Social & Environmental Assessment Report, our 25th report on our social and environmental performance since we started publishing them in 1989. I hope you will read more in the 2013 Highlights (Section 1), maybe even dig into the details in the full body of the report that follows. I am proud of the work we did during 2013 in many areas of our social performance and look forward to raising the bar higher in 2014!
Our Three-Part Mission Statement is at Our Core.
Ben & Jerry’s operates on a three-part mission that aims to create prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchisees, customers, and neighbors alike.
You can read the whole Ben & Jerry’s Mission Statement at www.benjerry.com/values.
Major Areas of Focus in 2013
A Sustainable Model of Linked Prosperity
In 1988 we wrote it down. It’s in the preamble of our three-part Mission Statement, that we are, “dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity.” We’ve been working on it ever since. The idea is as simple as it is radical: as the company prospers, all those touched by the company also prosper, including employees, suppliers, customers, and communities. A simple idea, but it takes a lot of work by a lot of people to make it happen.
You could think of linked prosperity when considering how it benefits people through some of our more well known examples: our livable wage policy; ongoing support for family dairy farms, supporting small-holder producers by purchasing Fairtrade-certified ingredients and values-led sourcing partnerships such as with Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY, where they hire people with barriers to employment and empower them with skills training, a renewed sense of dignity and a paycheck at the end of the week. Or you could think of linked prosperity as benefitting the planet we share by supporting sustainable forms of agriculture. Either way, it’s all linked.
Throughout 2013 we continued to explore what a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity means today, in all its forms. But it’s not just exploration of a theory, it’s finding practical ways to implement business decisions that manifest our best aspirations. Inside and outside of Ben & Jerry’s we challenge ourselves to keep developing and implementing new ways that linked prosperity can, well, prosper by the way we do business. We’ll use the internal work we’ve done in 2012 and 2013 as the foundation to set long-range company-wide goals for 2014 and the future.
Values Led Sourcing
In 2013, the U.S. Caring Dairy™ program included 83 farms. These farms alone supply more than enough of the equivalent dairy volume for all of the Ben & Jerry’s production in the North America. We also launched global standards for Caring Dairy™ and 255 Dutch farms completed the Caring Dairy™ program requirements in 2013. The result is that today, Caring Dairy™ farmers in Vermont and the Netherlands produce more than enough of the equivalent global dairy volume that we need to make our ice cream around the world! Learn more about Caring Dairy™.
2013 was the first year we were operating under a global agreement with Fairtrade International. It was also the first year to be working with Fairtrade America, the new licensing initiative in the USA that’s affiliated with Fairtrade International. We needed to recalibrate our ingredient conversion to accommodate the complex logistics for our conversion, which includes about 200 converted and newly introduced ingredients in about 200 products, globally. We reset our conversion target for the end of 2014.
We also started in 2013 to co-create a Fairtrade Producer Development Initiative that is designed to help Fairtrade producers truly realize sustainable livelihoods. We all recognize that no economic models are perfect even though they may aspire to do some great things. We entered into the Fairtrade system as a full participant, looking to play a collaborative, constructive role in helping Fairtrade realize its potential.
In Europe and Asia, Ben & Jerry’s already follows local requirements for non-GMO ingredients (Genetically Modified Organisms). In 2012 we pledged to transition our North American sourcing to only non-GMO ingredients for all of our products. By year-end 2013 about 87% of our ingredients, by volume, were non-GMO by the original seed source for that ingredient. That leaves about 13% to convert. The conversion is in our chunks and swirls. However, as with the Fairtrade conversion, it will take us into 2014 to complete this project, which doesn’t meet our original goal (by the end of 2013), but we are now well on our way to full conversion. Learn more about our conversion to non-GMO sourcing and our position on GMO labeling.
Social & Economic Justice
JOIN OUR CORE.
In partnership with our friends at Ashoka and HUB we launched year two of the Join Our Core competition to find and help support the best young social entrepreneurs across Europe. The competition is the perfect way for Ben & Jerry’s to support young entrepreneurs who share our vision of linked prosperity. In 2013, we expanded the Join Our Core competition to find and help support the best young social entrepreneurs across Europe. One winner was then chosen from each of the nine competing countries. The winners each received a €10,000 cash prize and a business mentoring program from the social enterprise gurus at Ashoka. The group also traveled to Ben & Jerry’s head quarters in Vermont to be part of the company’s 35th birthday celebration and participate in a Social Enterprise Summit, hosted by Ben & Jerry’s, in partnership with Ashoka. The winners will also have their business logos featured on an exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavor in 2014.
Learn more about the Join Our Core social entrepreneurs.
Measuring What Matters: Fine Tuning Our Metrics Model
Ben & Jerry’s has been issuing public reports on our social and environmental activities since 1989. In the past few years, Ben & Jerry’s has been working to develop a better way to measure our Company’s progress towards achieving Social Mission and environmental goals. 2013 is the fourth year we are using our Quality of Results (QoR) framework for this measure.
The primary purpose of the QoR is to give Ben & Jerry’s management, Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, Unilever management and you a clear scorecard by which to evaluate the Company’s social and environmental performance. We made some gains in 2013 over 2012 for our overall QoR numbers. We’re proud of that progress, but know there’s much work to be done.
The QoR measures specific goals for our social and environmental performance within 13 priorities of our business. For our 2013 report, we engaged Moss Adams LLP, an independent accounting firm, to review specific QoR indicators that Ben & Jerry’s set as priorities for the year. The specific scope of Moss Adams’ review primarily focuses on our Caring Dairy™ program, our Fairtrade conversion, and our non-GMO ingredient sourcing. You can read Moss Adams’ review here.
We started a process in 2013 to look at other models to determine how we can measure the impact of our social mission. While the QoR method provides some good information and has helped us stay on target with our goals, this method has its limitations. For example, the QoR measures the volume of Fairtrade-certified ingredients we purchase, but what we really want to know is how our purchasing of Fairtrade ingredients helps people and the planet. We will continue to explore alternative reporting frameworks in 2014.
Ben & Jerry's Board of Directors
In 2013, the Ben & Jerry’s independent Board of Directors continued its work refocusing the Company on its over-arching business vision of a sustainable model of Linked Prosperity for all of Ben & Jerry’s stakeholders, from seed to freezer. As the business continues to grow globally, the Board remains focused on making sure the company’s three-part mission remains intact and at the core of what we do. The Board also played a significant role in directing the business to get back on track to complete its non-GMO and Fairtrade-certified conversions and the Board was instrumental in pushing us to take a stand in support of mandatory GMO labeling. The Board also challenged us to strengthen our Social Mission initiatives in our Asia and Australian communities and numerous other matters directly related to the Company’s Mission and Values.
Our Board is growing more diverse and has been proactive in recruiting new members with the experience and expertise they will need to address the complex issues we’ll face in years to come.
How We Work
Ben & Jerry’s has been making ice cream since 1978 when grade school buddies Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first scoop shop in Burlington, Vermont. Though we’ve never strayed from the boys’ original dream — to create unique and euphoric ice cream flavors while making a positive impact along the way — we have grown and changed in all sorts of ways.
Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever. As of 2013, our packaged ice cream and novelties, such as ice cream bars and sandwiches, are sold in 35 countries, primarily through packaged products in retail outlets. Ben & Jerry’s also sold products, in 2013, through scoop shops operating in 20 countries. Our products are produced in pints, quarts, 500 ml cups, 2.4 gallon, 9.08 liter and 4.5 liter tubs, single-serve cups and individual novelties; and these are distributed in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, scoop shops, restaurants and other venues. By the end of 2013, outside of North America, Ben & Jerry’s products were marketed and distributed by affiliated companies within Unilever, and third-party licensees in Israel, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Ben & Jerry’s global business is managed out of our Central Support office in South Burlington, Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s sits within Unilever’s Refreshments division, which is managed globally out of London and regionally from Unilever offices in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors
Our Chief Executive Officer, Jostein Solheim, receives direction, counsel and support from an independent Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, established at the time of the Unilever acquisition. The Board is responsible for Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission and the Essential Integrity of Ben & Jerry’s, which includes, among other things, product quality and standards. In this role, the Board advises and supports Ben & Jerry’s senior management in maintaining and strengthening the Company’s three-part Mission Statement and protecting Ben & Jerry’s brand equity. This Board, which meets in full on a quarterly basis, and conducts ongoing committee work throughout the year, includes several directors who were with Ben & Jerry’s prior to the acquisition by Unilever.
Ben & Jerry’s is founded on and dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity. Our mission consists of three interrelated parts:
Product Mission To make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.
Economic Mission To operate the Company on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our stakeholders and expanding opportunities for development and career growth for our employees.
Social Mission To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally.
Underlying the mission is the determination to seek new and creative ways of addressing all three parts, while holding a deep respect for individuals inside and outside the company and for the communities of which they are a part.
Leading with Progressive Values Across Our Business
We have a progressive, nonpartisan Social Mission that seeks to meet human needs and eliminate injustices in our local, national, and international communities by integrating these concerns into our day-to-day business activities.
Our focus is on children and families, the environment and sustainable agriculture on family farms.
Capitalism and the wealth it produces do not create opportunity for everyone equally. We recognize that the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than at any time since the 1920s. We strive to create economic opportunities for those who have been denied them and to advance new models of economic justice that are sustainable and replicable.
By definition, the manufacturing of products creates waste. We strive to minimize our negative impact on the environment.
The growing of food is overly reliant on the use of toxic chemicals and other methods that are unsustainable. We support sustainable and safe methods of food production that reduce environmental degradation, maintain the productivity of the land over time, and support the economic viability of family farms and rural communities.
We seek and support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice. We believe government resources are more productively used in meeting human needs than in building and maintaining weapons systems.
We strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the North American market is made in our manufacturing plants in Waterbury and St. Albans, Vermont and in a Unilever facility in Henderson, Nevada. We also make it for the Canadian market in a Unilever facility in Simcoe, Ontario. Our U.S. frozen novelties, such as ice cream bars, are manufactured at a Unilever facility in Sikeston, Missouri. In 2013, we made Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the European market at Unilever facilities in Hellendoorn, The Netherlands, and Caivano, Italy. Products for Asia and Australia were exported from our facilities in the U.S and the Netherlands.
In order to make great ice cream and positive social change, Ben & Jerry’s continues to search for ingredient suppliers all along the supply chain who are aligned with our Company’s mission and core values. These are suppliers who, through their business practices or through their products, are expanding economic opportunities for those not afforded them, or leading the way to more sustainable environmental or agricultural systems.
We started a process in 2012 that we continued in 2013 of reviewing our Values-led Sourcing (VLS) program. We want to better define what it means to be a VLS supplier to Ben & Jerry’s. In 2013 we strengthened the operating framework around our VLS program. We’ve made some progress and are closer to more clearly defining our VLS criteria, which we will implement in 2014. Eventually, we want all of our suppliers to play increasingly significant roles in creating social, economic and environmental benefits. In 2013, under our newly developed standards, we would designate one supplier as a full-fledged VLS partner and a second supplier as a VLS partner-in-development:
- The Greyston Bakery, in Yonkers, New York, has been supplying us with chocolate brownies for our Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor for over 20 years. The bakery is owned by the Greyston Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to support low-income people and families on the path to self-sufficiency. Greyston’s programs reach over 2,000 people a year through child care, housing, health care, and other services! Greyston is also a certified Benefit Corporation (B Corp), which means that Greyston satisfied rigorous criteria to earn B Corp status alongside a growing community of companies that include a social purpose alongside their product and economic missions.
- Rhino Foods is another longtime supplier that makes the gobs of cookie dough we use in our Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. In 2013, Rhino became a certified B Corp, which is quite an accomplishment! Rhino has, over time, developed a variety of programs that supports its employees and the surrounding community. Rhino employs dozens of people who have come to the U.S. as refugees from around the world. Through a unique variety of support programs, Rhino helps these and all of its employees to earn a living, save money, develop a credit history, and make a new life for themselves and their families.
In 2013 we continued to make slow but steady progress on our commitment to Values-Led Sourcing:
- We adopted global standards for our Caring Dairy™ program, harmonizing the Caring Dairy™ programs in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
- Globally, about 28% of chunks and swirls were purchased from VLS suppliers, up from 26% in 2012.
- 22% of the chunks and swirls we purchased in North American were through Values Led Suppliers, up just 2% from 2012.
- In Europe 37% of chunks and swirls were purchased from VLS suppliers up from 34% in 2012.
- We made steady progress in our Fairtrade and GMO conversion processes. Although we are roughly six months behind our original schedule, due to the size and complexity of the conversions, we expect to be fully converted by the end of 2014.
- In partnership with Fairtrade International we laid the groundwork for the Producer Development Initiative to help small-holder producers who are already Fairtrade certified or who aspire to Fairtrade certification to achieve a sustainable living in agriculture and support the economic, social, and environmental health of their communities.
- We strengthened the framework around which we evaluate and make decisions about VLS suppliers to be more consistent and we are installing the new program in 2014 with the expectations that we will continue to refine it as we go.
Code of Business Principles
All of the suppliers for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are expected to follow practices consistent with the Code of Business Principles of our parent company, Unilever. This code includes: continuous improvement in managing environmental impacts, safe and healthy standards for workers, and a firm commitment to human rights, among other things. Unilever is also a signatory to the U.N. Secretary General’s Global Compact of 1999, which commits the company to support and respect human rights within our sphere of influence.
Setting Global Standards for Sustainable Dairy Practices
We’ve been working with dairy farmers in Vermont and the Netherlands for many years to help them push towards the leading edge of sustainable dairy practices. Our Caring Dairy™ program sponsors and supports farmers on their journey of continuous improvement in their social, environmental, and economic performance. The Caring Dairy™ program offers farmers a way to measure and improve 11 sustainability indicators on their farms. We help each farmer develop a unique action plan and provide technical assistance and workshops support to improve his or her practices.
Caring Dairy™ farmers produce more than enough of the dairy we need to make our ice cream around the globe. In 2013, the U.S. Caring Dairy™ program expanded to include 83 farms. These farms alone supply more than enough of the dairy volume that we need for all production in the U.S. and Canada. We also launched global standards for Caring Dairy™ and 255 Dutch farms participated in the Netherlands Caring Dairy™ program. These farms produce milk and cream for Ben & Jerry’s and also for Beemster, the Dutch cheese maker.
2013 marked the first year for data collection under our new global standards in The Netherlands; In the US, we are now into our third year. This year we saw increased scores in four areas (Animal Husbandry, Energy, Water and Impact on Local Economy), a lower score in Biodiversity, and score in all other sections stayed consistent to 2012 scores. Having multi-year data has helped us to spot trends and enhance the program, which means better results for farmers, the planet and happier cows too.
In 2014 we plan to launch Caring Dairy™ on farms that supply our Henderson, Nevada plant and a second Dutch dairy cooperative will also come on board. This leaves us just two current suppliers, serving a small volume of Ben & Jerry’s produced at factories in Ontario, Canada and Sikeston, Missouri to bring into the program. Our intention is to have all dairy that Ben & Jerry’s sources operating under the Caring Dairy™ program in the future. However, under a mass-balancing approach, we currently have more than enough farms in the Caring Dairy™ program producing the dairy volume Ben & Jerry’s needs for global production under Caring Dairy™ standards.
Learn more about Caring Dairy™.
What are GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms that have had their genetic makeup (DNA) altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur in nature or through traditional cross-breeding methods. GMOs are found in key commodity crops grown in the United States, such as corn, soy and sugar beet. According to the Non-GMO Project, as much as 80% of the conventionally processed food products on grocery store shelves in the US contain one or more genetically engineered ingredient, it's likely that the majority of us eat foods that contain GMOs on a regular basis.
Ben & Jerry’s supports sourcing non-GMO ingredients by origin. Non-GMO by origin refers to non-GMO according to the original seed source. That means that the seeds for ingredients that might use corn or soy, for example, is non-GMO. These ingredients would show up in our chunks and swirls as corn syrup or soy lecithin. Just so you know, our ice cream base mix is already totally non-GMO by origin. To be clear, the fresh Vermont milk and cream that our family farmers supply to us is not organic. This means that it is almost certain that some portion of the cows’ feed contains GMO ingredients, such as corn and soy. But because neither the cow or the milk and cream they provide us are genetically modified, our products would not be required to be labeled GMO under the legislation currently being considered in several states. However, we understand the issues around GMO animal feed and we are looking into how we can best develop cost effective non-GMO alternatives that could be strong options for the family farms we source from and whom we’ve supported since our earliest days in business.
Ben & Jerry’s is engaged at several levels in supporting a robust non-GMO food supply. At the heart of our actions is a long-term vision of systemic change that creates more options for non-GMO foods and ingredients.
Our work in this area is focused on:
- Converting our own products to non-GMO ingredients by origin
- Supporting a consumer’s right to know through mandatory product labeling
- Working to rebuild a robust system of non-GMO agriculture
Our Products & Supply Chain
In 2012 we began the complex process of converting all of our products to non-GMO ingredients by seed source. We are making progress and we’ve been able to secure non-GMO sourced ingredients for all of our base-mixes, which make up the bulk of our products. The toughest ingredients to source non-GMO are conventionally-sourced chunks and swirls from third-party suppliers. Our work moving forward will focus on building the supply chain to boost non-GMO options.
Originally, we developed a conversion plan that integrated our Fairtrade conversion with our non-GMO sourced ingredients in a methodical phasing that slowly increased over time. Our goal was to complete the conversion by the end of 2013. But, once we got into it, we realized that due to the complexity of the conversion, we needed to adjust our conversion plan and it will take us a little longer to complete. We anticipate converting the majority of our final-phase Fairtrade-certified, non-GMO ingredients between April-July 2014 and expect to be fully converted by the end of the year. In Europe and Asia, Ben & Jerry’s already follows local requirements for non-GMO ingredients.
We will continue to verify our ingredients through supplier documentation, which will be reviewed by an independent third-party firm.
Advocating for Consumers’ Right to Know About GMO’s
Historically, Ben & Jerry’s has supported a consumer’s right to know and in 2013 we fully engaged in efforts to support state level legislation and a national framework for GMO labeling. As the campaign to label food products made with GMO ingredients moved across the states, we were ready to take action. We campaigned heavily in Washington State in favor of the I-522 ballot item calling for GMO labeling and also testified in front of legislative panels in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the wins were small, (only Connecticut and Maine passed laws and each require at least several other states to pass GMO labeling laws before their laws come into effect). But, we know this is just the beginning and we are hopeful that more states, including Vermont, will pass GMO labeling laws in 2014 and beyond.
We applaud the activists from coast to coast who are stepping up to do what our national policy makers seem unable, or unwilling, to do. We’re proud to stand with our partners at Just Label It! and the many farmers, families, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers and others calling for GMO labeling.
Learn more about why we support mandatory GMO labeling, and a consumer's right to know.
Working for Systematic Change
Rebuilding the Non-GMO Supply Chain
In the United States a majority of commodities produced are GMO. In fact, according to the Non-GMO Project, between 88%-95% of all corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet in the US are genetically modified, depending on the commodity. We’d like to turn the tide and move US agriculture away from GMOs so consumers have a broader choice of food ingredients and products. We want to create sustainable, cost-effective conditions for farmers who want to begin the transition back to non-GMO corn, soy, canola, sugar beet and other commodities. We believe that as that happens the family dairy farmers we source from will have access to competitively priced non-GMO feed for their cows. We’re working hard to understand how we can make that happen.
In 2013, we initiated and participated in a multi-stakeholder working group, to create the roadmap to restore non-GMO food and supply chains in the United States. The group composed of farmers, seed breeders, brokers, processors, retailers and researchers, have joined forces to cultivate a plan to rebuild a sustainable, restorative system of agriculture. Specifically, the group is working to restore robust non-GMO food and feed supply chains in the U.S., while enhancing the organic supply.
We are at the very beginning of a long road forward and are committed to working in partnership with key stakeholders to bring about this systemic change in our food system. We kicked off this important work at the very end of 2013 and plan to stay fully engaged throughout 2014 and beyond.
About 25 years ago, Ben & Jerry’s came out in opposition to the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a genetically engineered hormone given to cows to increase their milk production. We think rBGH is a step in the wrong direction. In the U.S., we require our dairy farmers to pledge that they don’t treat their cows with rBGH. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that there is no significant difference between milk from rBGH-treated and untreated cows. But in Canada and most European countries, rBGH has never been able to win government approval, so in those countries, it’s one less thing we have to worry about. Even in the U.S., rBGH use has declined in recent years – and we look forward to the day when it is no longer used in the dairy industry.
Although it’s been decades since we took a stand on rBGH, we are still working with a coalition of nonprofit groups and companies in the U.S. to defend the consumer's right to know and to ensure a reliable supply of dairy that comes from cows that are not treated with rBGH.
In 2010, Ben & Jerry’s pledged to fully convert its global product line to source Fairtrade-certified ingredients by the end of 2013. The decision was an intentional directive to create a meaningful impact for farmers in developing countries around the world. It is the largest and most complex sourcing decision ever made by Ben & Jerry’s.
Early on in the conversion process we discovered that it would be logistically impossible to implement the methodically phased-in conversion process that we had originally committed to. From the get-go, we knew the process would be complex, after all, our global conversion to Fairtrade-certified includes about 200 ingredients in 200 different products. The logistics behind that scale of conversion can slow down any ambition and perhaps we were a tad overly ambitious. Plus, our Fairtrade conversion schedule was affected by our big plans for our non-GMO conversion in North America. The good news is that we anticipate being fully Fairtrade-certified and non-GMO by mid-to-late 2014. We figure, better late than never!
Our plan remains to first convert our five key commodities: sugar, cocoa, vanilla, banana and coffee, throughout our base mixes and then in all of our chunks and swirls in all of our products. By accomplishing that, we will achieve Fairtrade certification for all of our products.
There will be a few remaining ingredients, such as certain fruits, nuts and spices that we are unable to source from Fairtrade suppliers, for a variety of reasons. In those cases, Fairtrade International has provided us derogations (approved waivers) to show that despite our efforts to source these products from Fairtrade suppliers, we were unable to either because they did not meet our quality specifications or they were just not commercially available to us.
To increase the availability of these tougher-to-source ingredients, in 2013 in partnership with Fairtrade International, we created the Producer Development Initiative (PDI) to help small-holder producers who are already Fairtrade certified or who aspire to Fairtrade certification to achieve a sustainable living in agriculture and support the economic, social, and environmental health of their communities. The PDI will achieve this objective by funding projects that assist producer groups in development areas such as building capacity, improving quality and gaining expanded market access for their products so that they can experience more success in global markets and supply chains. We are very excited about this new initiative as we think it will result in systemic change, help to strengthen the Fairtrade model and contribute to a more sustainable agricultural system that is better for people and the planet.
Overall, the Fairtrade conversion process has been complicated and at times daunting, but it is a challenge we fully embrace. We will stay vigilant to ensure the Fairtrade model makes a true impact to fulfill the farmers’ needs, and best achieve the social, economic and environmental promise.
Building the Fair Trade Movement
The global Fair Trade movement will only succeed in its mission to create social, economic, and environmental benefits in developing countries if ice cream-lovers and coffee-drinkers and morning banana-eaters understand what Fair Trade is – and seek out products with the Fairtrade-certified logo. That’s why we think teaching people about Fair Trade is just as important as sourcing Fairtrade-certified ingredients for our products. We want to work at both ends of the Fair Trade system: educating consumers to create more demand, and working with Fair Trade stakeholders within the system to improve supply and livelihoods for Fair Trade producers.
In 2013 we kept up efforts to educate consumers about the value of Fairtrade-certified and strengthen the Fair Trade system. Here’s how:
- In collaboration with Fairtrade International we developed the Producer Development Initiative (PDI) designed to help small-holder producers achieve a sustainable living in agriculture and support the economic, social, and environmental health of their communities. Through the PDI we will fund projects that assist producer groups in building capacity, improving quality and gaining expanded market access for their products so that they can experience more success in global markets and supply chains.
- We continued to contribute proceeds from our flavor, “Late Night Snack” to support Fair Trade Universities in the US.
- We participated in events for World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade Fortnight in the UK, and Fair Trade Month in the U.S. to spread the word!
- And several of Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops have supported their local communities’ efforts to become Fair Trade towns.
Converting Our 5 Key Commodities to Fairtrade-Certified
SUGAR: Our goal is to make sure that the sugar we use in our products is coming from suppliers who are doing right by their workers and following environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices.
In Europe, we have been phasing in Fairtrade sugar in all Ben & Jerry’s products since 2010 and in 2013, 100% of sugar used in our based mix in Europe was Fairtrade-certified. In North America, we’ve made significant progress but did not meet our goal to be fully converted by the end of 2013. However, we anticipate being fully converted to Fairtrade sugar in our base mix by March 2014.
GOAL: Our revised goal is to achieve full conversion to Fairtrade sugar in our base-mix, globally, by end of 2014.
PROGRESS: In 2013:
- Globally, Fairtrade sugar represented 67% of sugar used in our base mix, up from just over 29% in 2012.
- In North America, over 52% of sugar used in our base mix is Fairtrade certified, up from 0.2% in 2012.
- In Europe, 100% of the sugar we added to our base mix was Fairtrade.
COCOA: For many die-hard Ben & Jerry’s fans, there wouldn’t be much point to eating ice cream at all if it didn’t have chocolate in it somewhere. So it’s no surprise that nearly three-quarters of our flavors have chocolate or cocoa in them, in the form of cocoa powder, chocolate chunks, milk chocolate Peace signs, fudge swirls, and various other gobs, chips, and flakes.
Taken together, these ingredients use a significant volume of cocoa powder or cocoa butter. We believe that by transitioning these cocoa-based ingredients to Fairtrade-certified, we can have a significant impact on improving the livelihoods of our cocoa farmers.
GOAL: Our revised goal is to achieve full conversion to Fairtrade cocoa in our base-mix, globally, by end of 2014.
PROGRESS: In 2013:
- Globally, Fairtrade cocoa represented just under 94% of all the cocoa in our base mix, up from almost 93% in 2012.
- In North America, the purchase of Fairtrade cocoa increased to 90%, up from just over 88% in 2012.
- In Europe we held steady at 100%.
VANILLA & COFFEE: Natural flavorings such as vanilla and coffee extract are an important part of the party inside our pints. While we still have some work to do in our North America Fairtrade vanilla conversion, our European-based ice cream makers have reached the target and are using 100% Fairtrade vanilla. We are pleased to report that we are well on our way to our goal of 100% Fairtrade coffee in all our products.
GOAL: Our revised goal is to achieve full conversion to Fairtrade vanilla and coffee in our base-mix, globally, by end of 2014.
PROGRESS: In 2013:
- 100% of the coffee used in our global production was Fairtrade-certified, up slightly (about a half of a percent) from 2012.
- In Europe, we have not manufactured any products with coffee ingredients for the past two years, so we have not sourced any Fairtrade-certified coffee.
- Globally, close to 92% of all vanilla used was Fairtrade-certified, up from just under 91% in 2012.
- In North America we are moving forward on the path to Fairtrade vanilla moving from more than 88% in 2012 to just over 89% Fairtrade.
- In 2013, 100% of the vanilla purchased in Europe was Fairtrade.
BANANAS: In an effort to make some headway converting fruit to Fairtrade-certified or VLS, we decided to focus our efforts on the one fruit that makes up a major portion of all the fruit we purchase, bananas. We are making progress and the best news is that at the end of 2013, we secured reliable sources of Fairtrade bananas and all the bananas we purchase moving forward will be from Fairtrade suppliers.
GOAL: Our revised goal is to achieve full conversion to Fairtrade banana puree in our base-mix, globally, by end of 2014.
PROGRESS: In 2013:
- Globally, about 57% of all the bananas we sourced were Fairtrade certified.
- In North America, over 46% of the bananas used in our products were Fairtrade.
- In Europe 100% of bananas purchased have been Fairtrade-certified since the end of 2011.
CHUNKS & SWIRLS: The number of different chunks and swirls in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream literally reaches into the hundreds, from plain walnuts to chocolate-covered waffle cones to whiskey-caramel swirls.
GOAL: Our revised goal is to fully convert the five key commodities in our chunks and swirls to Fairtrade-certified ingredients by the end of 2014. We also want to increase the number of ingredients purchased through VLS suppliers.
PROGRESS: In 2013:
- Globally, 39% of the chunks and swirls purchased were Fairtrade, up from about 38% in 2012.
- In North America, the percentage of chunks and swirls in our products that were made from Fairtrade ingredients held steady at a little more than 7%.
In Europe 95% of chunks and swirls were Fairtrade ingredients, down 2% from 2012.
Cage-free & Free-range Eggs
Several years ago, Ben & Jerry’s decided to switch to using certified-humane cage-free eggs in our ice cream. We were convinced by the research that cage-free egg systems, combined with rigorous third-party certification, allow hens more opportunity to engage in normal hen behaviors such as roosting, scratching, and flapping their wings.
As one of the first companies to commit to certified-humane cage-free, we were ahead of the market and had to make the change in stages so the cage-free egg industry could catch up with our demand. We also had logistical challenges of our own to solve. We went ‘free-range’ for our European egg supply starting in 2005; and we started the transition to cage-free in the U.S. in 2007.
GOAL: Source 100% certified-humane cage-free eggs in North American production and 100% free range in European production.
PROGRESS: In 2013 we were well on our way to completing the conversion with 98% of the eggs used in North America cage-free. We achieved 100% in Europe for a total of roughly 99% globally.
Beyond the cage-free egg transition, we are also working to make sure that the eggs we buy are sweetened with Fairtrade sugar.
GOAL: Our revised goal is to source fully Fairtrade-certified sugared eggs by end of 2014.
PROGRESS: In 2013, 56% of sugared eggs in North American were Fairtrade, up from 0.2% in 2012. In Europe, we achieved our goal in 2012 and 100% of the eggs we use in our ice cream are processed with Fairtrade sugar. On a global basis, therefore, we estimate that in 2013 nearly 73% of sugared eggs used in our ice cream were Fairtrade-certified, up from 37% in 2012.
In 1998 we instituted a minority supplier program for our non-ingredient procurement. Given that the company’s ingredient purchases are largely commodities, where we buy from a handful of suppliers, we felt there was more opportunity for diversity in our non-ingredient purchases.
Regrettably, in 2004, we suspended our formal supplier diversity program due to what was stated at that time as “redirected priorities, staffing changes and cost savings mandates had made it impossible to continue the program.”
In 2014 we intend to redefine how a minority sourcing initiative can be meaningfully developed as a part of our values-led sourcing initiatives. Once we complete that, we will develop the metrics to measure our progress.
Social Mission Activism
It’s good for us to turn a shovel, lift a hammer or dip a paint brush to do some good in our local communities, but Ben & Jerry’s involvement in the community goes well beyond that. It extends to activist campaigns around important issues that are aligned with our Company values and partnerships with organizations that share our values and view of the world. We’ve never been afraid to speak up for social and economic justice, sustainable food, or peace! Here’s a look at where we were active in 2013.
Supporting Young Social Entrepreneurs
In 2013, we continued our partnership with our friends at Ashoka and the HUB to expand the Join Our Core competition to find some of the best young social entrepreneurs from nine countries across Europe. The goal of Join Our Core is to create awareness and support for these social entrepreneurs. The winners each received a €10,000 cash prize and a business mentoring program from the social enterprise gurus at Ashoka. From a pool of over 430 applicants, up from 200 in 2012, 18 were selected as finalists. The finalists presented their ideas in London to a panel of 10 of Europe’s top socially responsible business leaders.
One winner was then chosen from each of the nine competing countries: the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria and Switzerland. The group traveled to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont to be part of the Company’s 35th birthday celebration and to participate in a Social Enterprise Summit. The winners will also have their business logos featured on an exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavor in 2014.
Overall, Join Our Core was a smashing success, a ton of fun and a perfect way for Ben & Jerry’s to support young entrepreneurs who share our vision of linked prosperity. We can hardly wait to do it again in 2014.
Read more about the Join Our Core finalist on the Join our Core website.
Standing for Marriage Equality
Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of commitment to social justice, including gay rights. This commitment is grounded in our Company’s core values, which include a deep respect for people inside and outside our Company and an unshakable belief that all people deserve full and equal civil rights. We’ve been providing benefits to same sex couples since 1989 and since then have been active in supporting marriage equality laws. Until same sex couples are afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples, we will continue to work with relevant nonprofit partners to build public support for marriage equality, add our voice to the public discourse around marriage equality and celebrate the expansion of marriage equality to new states and countries.
Marriage Equality Activism in Australia
In 2013, when the issue of marriage equality heated up in Australia, we jumped on board to show our support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. In partnership with Australian Marriage Equality (AME), the Australian-based equal rights organization, we launched “Say I DOugh” for marriage equality. This awareness raising campaign calling for politicians to take a stand on the issue of gay marriage, heated up during the run up to the federal election.
To help raise awareness, for a limited time we renamed our Cookie Dough flavor I DOugh, I DOugh, we got active on social media and organized a demonstration in a busy shopping area where members of the public were invited to ascend a giant wedding cake to show their support for marriage equality. Our scoop shops activated postcard writing campaigns, driving customers to sayidough.com, where citizens can get information about the campaign and link to Australian Marriage Equality’s Vote4Love website.
Although, gay marriage is still not legal in Australia, we think the tides are turning. This is an issue close to our core and we’ll continue to advocate for and help raise awareness of the issue of marriage equality for as long as necessary.
Marriage Equality Activism in Europe
In 2012 we joined with activists in England to stand for marriage equality. We kicked off our campaign by renaming our apple pie flavor ice cream - Apple-y Ever After and since then have been supporting grassroots activists’ efforts to raise awareness and change policy to allow gay couples the right to marry. On July 15, 2013 the landmark Marriage Bill passed through its third reading in the House of Lords, a historic moment for gay marriage equality in the UK. To mark this important occasion we teamed up with Britain’s foremost gay rights charity, Stonewall to create a giant rainbow wedding cake and co-hosted an event where we served up scoops to MPs, delegates and gay rights advocates to celebrate the passage of the law which allows same sex couples in Wales and the UK to live Apple-y Ever After.
In Ireland, to raise awareness and promote marriage equality, we renamed our mint flavor, “EngageMint” and teamed up with local celebrities and the equal marriage advocacy group MarriageEquality to host an “EngageMint” party to celebrate equal marriage rights. The campaign focused on raising awareness and urged fans to take action to support a referendum on marriage equality in Ireland. With 79% of Ireland’s Constitutional Convention in support of gay marriage, we are hopeful that it won’t be long before access to marriage a reality for everyone in Ireland.
Learn more about Ben & Jerry’s position on marriage equality and gay and lesbian rights.
Flavors for Marriage Equality
2013 - Mint Chocolate Chunk renamed EngageMint (Ireland), Cookie Dough renamed Coppa di Fatto (Italy), Cookie Dough renamed I DOugh I DOugh (Australia), Oh My Apple Pie renamed Apple-y Ever After (UK)
Since 2009, in an effort to raise awareness and to show our support for marriage equality, for a limited time, we’ve renamed flavors six times.
2009 - Chubby Hubby renamed Hubby Hubby (U.S.)
2012 - Apple Pie flavor renamed Apple-y Ever After (U.K.)
2013 - Mint Chocolate Chunk renamed EngageMint (Ireland), Cookie Dough renamed Coppa di Fatto (Italy), Cookie Dough renamed I DOugh I DOugh (Australia), Oh My Apple Pie renamed Apple-y Ever After (UK)
Supporting a Fair and Just Political System
Ben & Jerry’s has been advocating for democracy and justice since the first cone was scooped in 1978. Over the years we have taken an activist stand and provided support to citizens’ efforts to rein in corporate money in politics, we pay a livable wage to our employees, we directly support family farms and we are working to source fairly traded ingredients for all our products.
Inspired by the Occupy movement, in 2012 we launched the Get the Dough Out of Politics campaign to increase awareness of the need for fundamental reforms that will reduce or eliminate undue corporate influence in the democratic process and to encourage citizens to take a stand. In 2013 we dialed back the volume on our Get the Dough work, in order to dial up our efforts on non-GMO campaign, but continued to support other grassroots efforts to rid politics of corrupting corporate money. When we could, we turned out to scoop ice cream at rallies and events across the county. In partnership with Represent.Us and its parent organization United Republic we supported the “Stop Lobbyist Bribery” K Street 5K run and walk. The event which involved a flock of activists dressed as $100 bills running from K Street to Capitol Hill was designed to raise awareness for an American Anti-Corruption Act. We remain firm in our position to keep corporate money out of our elections and are proud to support those leading the effort.
Advocating for Dairy Animal Welfare in Europe
In 2013, The Ben & Jerry’s European team continued to work with animal welfare organizations to advocate for the Supporting Better Dairy campaign. The campaign calls for improved and humane conditions for more than 23 million dairy cows throughout Europe, including:
- Good Housing: Access to grazing and standards for indoor housing
- Good Feeding: Daily diet that meets the cow’s needs
- Good Health: Ensuring cows are healthy, and do not undergo pain and suffering
- Appropriate Behavior: Cows have the opportunity to express their natural behavior
While EU regulations already safeguard other farm animals, dairy cows currently have no such protection. This means their welfare standards vary greatly across the EU, with some suffering from inadequate housing, lack of access to pasture, meager diets and poor health.
In 2013, in partnership with The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Compassion in World Farming, we continued our awareness raising campaign to drive policy change. With our partners, we collected almost 300,000 signatures from citizens urging to EU powers to pass legislation for dairy cows in Europe to have the same protection as other farm animals.
In culmination of the year-long campaign, we turned the collected signatures into a giant piece of artwork and took it to the European Commission to demand justice for dairy cows. The artwork portrays one of the campaign’s key objectives: contented cows with access to pasture.
Achieving legislation at EU level isn’t a roll in the hay, and there is a lot of work still to do, but we feel good about the momentum we helped to create. Although we’re no longer collecting signatures, Ben & Jerry’s, Compassion in World Farming and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) will continue to fight for better dairy cow welfare.
Scoop Shop Social Action
Ben & Jerry’s began as a single ice cream scoop shop in 1978, and though our business has expanded wildly since then, our roots are still firmly planted as a scoop shop company. Most are owned and operated by independent franchisees, although Ben & Jerry’s also operates three company-owned stores. A handful of our scoop shops are what we call a PartnerShop®.
In many ways, our scoop shops are the centerpiece of our Social Mission, because they are the places where we directly touch local communities. Every year, they contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in time, ice cream, and sponsorships in support of community projects of all sizes and shapes, from Green-Up Days to Food Drives to Hunger Walks.
On Free Cone Day, most of our franchisees team up with local charities to raise awareness and money from free ice cream seekers who flock to their shops by the thousands. Once a year, the franchise community gets together for our largest company supported community service project in conjunction with their franchise community meeting. In 2013, in conjunction with the annual franchisee meeting in Puerto Rico, more than 200 franchisees, managers, staff and friends rolled up their sleeves to help revitalize Casa de Niños Manuel Fernández Juncos, a home to 8 to 18 year old boys who have been victims of abuse and neglect.
Of course, we ended the work day with an ice cream fiesta!
Measuring Social Impact Among Franchisees
Although we are still perfecting the way we assess it, we do our best to try to measure the Social Mission engagement of our franchisees - and our support for their Social Mission activities. To do this, we look at several specific scores that relate to financial performance; the franchisor-franchisee relationship; and Social Mission activities. Most of this data is proprietary or, because it relates to our business relationships with franchisees, is too sensitive to report publicly. At this time, we are only able to measure Social Mission engagement in our U.S. scoop shops.
Here’s what we can tell you. In general terms we saw improvements in 2012 on 3 of the 4 measures of scoop shop financial performance, relative to 2011. Likewise, we saw improvements in 3 of the 4 measures of the franchisor-franchisee relationship and 5 of the 6 measures of Social Mission engagement improved.
Scoop Shop Community Action Program (CAP)
The Scoop Shop Community Action Program (C.A.P. Grants), piloted in 2012, supports franchisees’ efforts to get involved in their communities and give back. This year, we worked closely with 20 scoop shops in the U.S. to help them mobilize their CAT’s (Community Action Teams) and provided financial support to help their community-oriented projects happen. We are encouraged by the 20 shops (6 more shops than our 2012 count!) that participated in the program and we will be running the program again in 2014.
Employee Community Action Team (CAT) Projects
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation funds the Vermont Community Action Team (CAT) grant program, which allows employees to support organizations in the places where they live and work. Each site gives away $75,000 and has a CAT that consists of 8-12 members. The CATs meet monthly and make grants between $500 to $2000. The CAT’s focus their decisions based on these guidelines; underserved populations including seniors, at-risk youth, and low-income people; needs of underserved communities; basic human needs; and organizations that are primarily volunteer-led. The CAT’s reviewed 186 proposals and made grants totaling $225,000 to 152 organizations. Here are a few Community Action Team grants made in 2013.
With a grant of $500 from the Waterbury CAT, The CERV’s (Community Emergency Relief Volunteers) Summer Lunch Program provided meals to children in and around Northfield, Vermont who would otherwise go without during the summer vacation months.
The Central Support CAT made a $1000 grant to Girls Rock Vermont (GRVT), a volunteer-based non-profit music organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women in Vermont through music education and activities fostering self-respect, leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.
The St. Albans CAT, with a grant of $1500, supported River Arts of Morrisville, Inc. Summer Youth Programs for children and youth ages 4-17.
In addition to individual grants, each year, Ben & Jerry’s employees work together on several large-scale community service projects that the CATs organize - to fix, clean, build, and refresh things that improve the quality of life for our communities:
St. Albans Site project: Teams from our manufacturing site in St Albans participated in 11 community volunteer projects in 2013. These are the organizations we partnered with: Camp Abanaki, Children’s Fishing Derby, Franklin County Humane Society, Green Up Day, Laurie’s House, Missisquoi River Basin, Relay for Life, St Albans Raid Half Marathon, Kamp Ta Kum Ta, Bay Watershed Project, and Yogi Little League.
Waterbury Site project: During 2013, the Waterbury team completed 15 community projects! Some of these projects included: Lamoille County Habitat for Humanity build, Vermont Food Bank support, Friends of the Winooski River, & cleaning a community site in Waterbury.
Central Support Site project: The team from Central Support spent a day at Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson, VT and built some interesting yurts, a bike shed, weeded and planted gardens, cleared trails, planted trees, dug a fire pit and built a bread oven.
We are honored to have the opportunity to partner with some truly amazing nonprofit organizations, all around the globe. We support these partners in a variety of ways including product and cash donations, royalties from flavors, volunteer hours, purchasing their products, investing in their enterprises and collaborating to move social issues we care about forward. While we hope their affiliation with us offers our partners some real benefit, our connections to these NGOs keep us true to our core and inspire us every day.
Starting with our perennial and primary partnership with the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, here are a few of the organizations we partnered with in 2013:
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation
Part of Ben & Jerry’s commitment to social and economic justice is our support of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which makes grants to grassroots activists making positive change in their own communities. Through the Foundation, we’re helping immigrant workers, neighborhood groups, farm workers and dozens of other groups around the country to get organized and fight for a fair deal. Grant decisions are driven by a non-management level employee committee who reviews proposals and makes funding recommendations. In 2013, 53 employees of Ben & Jerry’s participated on a Foundation committee as a grant-maker. In addition 21% or 86 of the company’s 418 employees participated in the Foundation’s Matching Gift Program by making 212 contributions to 61 organizations totaling $45,700.
In 2013, Ben & Jerry’s contributed $2,530,080 to The Foundation, a 13% increase from the previous year. To learn more about The Foundation and the organizations they support, visit the website or view the 2013 Annual Report.
In 2013 we continued our partnership with the social entrepreneur guru's at Ashoka - our lead partner for Join Our Core. With help from Ashoka and our other collaborating partners, Join Our Core, a competition to find the most innovative young social entrepreneurs across Europe, was a huge success. We can't wait to do it all over again in 2014. Click here to learn more about Ashoka and Join Our Core.
Mission Australia works with our team in Australia to help provide jobs and job training in our scoop shops, for disadvantaged young people. In 2013, our Australian scoop shops held two fundraising events to benefit Mission Australia.
Learn more about Mission Australia.
DREAM, is a nonprofit mentoring organization that matches college mentors with young people growing up in subsidized housing projects. Within our South Burlington office, Ben & Jerry’s donates office space to DREAM. DREAM staff have access to shared resources in the building, including the employee kitchen, meeting rooms, and photocopiers. We’re glad to be able to support its innovative and important work.
The Peace Alliance
We support The Peace Alliance in advocating for the Youth PROMISE Act, legislation in the U.S. to support much needed, community-driven prevention and intervention programs to keep kids drug-free and safe. As part of an awareness raising campaign, in October we took a scoop truck to Capitol Hill and scooped more than 1,000 servings of ice cream to more than 800 congressional staff and several members of congress.
PartnerShops are Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops that are independently owned and operated by community-based nonprofit organizations. Ben & Jerry’s waives the standard franchise fees and provides additional support to help nonprofits operate strong businesses.
PartnerShops offer job and entrepreneurial training to youth and young adults that may face barriers to employment. Ultimately, they help people build better lives.
Learn more about the nonprofits that operate our PartnerShops.
Royalties Paid to Nonprofits
Every day around the globe, in scoop shops, shopping centers, and grocery stores, a percentage of sales of certain Ben & Jerry’s products are directed to nonprofit charitable organizations, including Fairtrade organizations. These products include:
- All Fairtrade-certified flavors sold in Europe and Fairtrade-certified flavors sold in the U.S. contribute licensing fees that support the work of Fairtrade labeling organizations and around the world – in addition to Fairtrade premiums paid to farmers or farmer cooperatives for the ingredients they grow for us.
- Bonnaroo Buzz – Bonnaroo Works Fund
- Liz Lemon Greek Yogurt - Royalties are paid to Jumpstart, a non-profit that supports early education in low-income neighborhoods.
- Phish Food® (global) – Some of the royalties from this flavor are paid to the Waterwheel Foundation’s Lake Champlain Initiative, which protects the health of this beautiful lake on Vermont’s western border, and its surrounding watershed.
- Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream™ (US) – Royalties are paid to the Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund and its mission to benefit children, veterans, and the environment.
- Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Snack – Royalties benefit Fair Trade Universities.
- Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler™ (US) – Royalties are paid to Farm Aid and its ongoing mission to support family-farm centered agriculture in America and to keep family farmers on their land.
B Corp Certification
Ben & Jerry’s has always believed in linked prosperity - that all stakeholders connected to the business should prosper as it prospers, from those who produce the ingredients, to employees who make the product, to the communities in which the company operates.
In October 2012, a quarter-century after pioneering the socially responsible business movement, Ben & Jerry’s became the first wholly-owned subsidiary in the world, with full support from our parent Company, Unilever, to gain B Corp Certification.
B Corps are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps must satisfy a rigorous assessment by the non-profit B Lab that covers: corporate governance, worker benefits, community engagement and environmental performance. Ben & Jerry’s scored 89 points, above the minimum 80 points to achieve B Corp certification. The B Corp recertification process happens every other year and we are ready to participate in that process in 2014.
We think B Corp Certification is the next chapter for socially responsible businesses and we are proud to be an active player in the B Corp movement.
Learn more about Ben & Jerry’s joining the B Corp movement.
Learn more about B Corporations and view Ben & Jerry’s Impact Assessment at: www.bcorporation.net/community/ben-jerrys
Employee Wellbeing & Culture
Ben & Jerry’s is committed to paying all of its workers a livable wage, and our livable Wage Policy covers all full and part-time employees in our Vermont manufacturing plants and in all of our company-owned scoop shops. In 1995 we established a method for calculating a livable wage benchmark for Vermont. We defined it as the starting wage for a single person that will sustain a reasonable quality of life to include expenditures for housing, utilities, out-of-pocket health care, transportation, food, recreation, savings, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses. Since then, we’ve adjusted this livable wage annually to ensure the relative value is sustained in today’s marketplace.
Ben & Jerry’s livable wage benchmark for 2013 was $16.13 per hour, up from $15.97 in 2012, $15.34 per hour in 2011 and from $14.64 in 2010. This hourly wage translates to $33,550 per year. For comparison, at year-end 2013, the minimum wage in Vermont was $8.60/hr ($17,888/yr) and the national minimum wage was $7.25/hr ($15,080/yr).
Globally, in 2010, we reviewed how our livable wage stands up for the primary employees who make Ben & Jerry’s at manufacturing sites in Henderson, NV; Sikeston, MO; Simcoe, Ontario; and Hellendoorn, in The Netherlands. We believe that, based upon local standards, our livable wage is met at those sites. Because this is an extensive process to complete globally, we focus yearly reviews in the US.
Ben & Jerry’s is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity in our workforce. One element of this commitment is our application of Affirmative Action practices to look for conspicuous imbalances in our workforce and take positive steps to correct them. Affirmative Action plans focus on equality in hiring, training, promoting, and compensating employees. There were no areas in which statistically significant adverse impact to our employees were found.
Each year, through a variety of Company sponsored volunteer hours, we encourage our employees to get out into the real world and give back. That can come in the form of 40 paid volunteer hours that many of our employees can use, or group projects that are organized by Ben & Jerry’s worksites or at various Company gatherings throughout the year. Overall, adding up group community projects and individual volunteer time, we estimate that employees logged 4,492 hours of paid volunteer time globally in 2013, which was up from the 3,552 that we logged in 2012. But the truth is that we don’t believe we are properly capturing all of the volunteer hours and community projects that Ben & Jerry’s people are logging around the world. So, we know that we need to do a better job of capturing and reporting that.
Climate & Environment
When it comes to the issue of climate and the environment, we know that our business is at the center of some of the most pressing climate issues of our time. We are a frozen product made from agricultural ingredients. We make it, freeze it and ship it. So, we know we have to work harder to mitigate our impact on the environment.
For many years, we have invested aggressively in energy-efficient technology from cooling systems to lighting to water and waste management systems at our manufacturing plants. We continue to devise and pursue innovative plans to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our business to respond to the urgent challenge of climate change. We send dairy waste from our Vermont ice cream plants back to two of the farms that supply us with fresh dairy ingredients. Our waste is put into methane digesters with other farm waste - where it generates energy to power the farm!
We think we do a pretty good job but know we can do more to better understand and reduce our negative impacts in the environment. In 2013 we started to delve deeper into these issues and we will continue this work into 2014.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the North American market is made in our manufacturing plants in Waterbury and St. Albans, Vermont and in a Unilever facility in Henderson, Nevada. We make Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the European market in a Unilever facility in Hellendoorn, The Netherlands and for the Canadian market in a Unilever facility in Simcoe, Ontario. We make ice cream for Asian markets in our Vermont manufacturing plants. Our frozen novelties are manufactured at a Unilever facility in Sikeston, Missouri. We recognize the impact that our manufacturing process has on the environment and work at all levels to reduce our environmental impact.
We are measuring Ben & Jerry’s environmental impact for the purposes of our QoR metric by looking at four performance parameters at every plant that makes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products - water, solid waste, energy and CO2 emissions. Using a formula that weights each plant’s performance by the volume of Ben & Jerry’s products it produces, we calculated the following outcomes in 2013: (weighted global results - normalized performance – per gallon of product).
2013 Environmental Numbers
- Water Use: 1.2 % better than 2012 (cubic meters per unit of production)
- Solid Waste: 195.8% better than 2012 (kg per unit of production)
- Energy Use: 0.7% worse than 2012 (gigajoules per unit of production)
- CO2 Emissions: 12.3 % worse than 2012 (kg per unit of production)
Carbon Reduction and Offsets
In 2013 we moved away from carbon offsets and towards a process called “carbon insetting” which means we are working on reducing emissions within our supply chain. We know that dairy farms represent the largest source of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and in 2013 we initiated a Manure Separator project with Vermont-based Native Energy that will reduce methane emissions on Caring Dairy™ farms. The Manure separation equipment and a drum composter will process cow manure into a sanitary bedding material in place of increasingly costly sawdust.
The project is designed to:
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing a portion of the manure solids that are traditionally held in the farm’s manure lagoon where they break down and produce methane gas
- decrease potential run-off pollution, primarily phosphorus, by reducing the volume of waste material that needs to be spread on nearby fields
- strengthen the long-term financial sustainability of the farm by reducing costs associated with bedding and hauling and spreading waste material
The project will reduce 10,550 metric tons of CO2 over the first 10 years of the project’s operations.
The investment we made in the project covers all of the emissions from our manufacturing plants and our air travel for 2013.
Part of the plan for climate mitigation in Europe included the installation of a bio-digester and a new heat conversion plant at our manufacturing site in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands. The biodigester turns the factory’s dairy waste into energy. Although we have some kinks to work out to improve its performance, we are decreasing our reliance on natural gas and we are on our way to converting the site to be CO2 neutral.
For years, Ben & Jerry’s has been working to reduce the negative environmental impacts of our packaging materials. It has always been a challenge, given that our packaging must meet strict requirements for food packaging and also has to stand up to temperatures of 20 degrees below zero (F).
Pint Cartons and Novelty Boxes
In recent years, we have focused on making sure all of the paperboard used in our pint cartons and novelty boxes (our two largest packaging uses) is coming from environmentally friendly sources. Toward this end, we have phased in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard for all of our U.S. pint containers. The FSC certification means that the paperboard comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife habitat, maintenance of biodiversity, avoidance of genetically modified tree species, and protection of traditional and civil rights, among other Rainforest Alliance criteria for healthy forests.
Our plan to convert our primary European packaging to FSC-certified in 2012 was successful. That helped us improve significantly in this area. In 2013, on a global basis, we estimate that 98% of the paperboard we used in our primary packaging was FSC certified, up from 96% in 2012, measured by weight.
While our pint containers are not allowed to contain post-consumer recycled material because of food contact regulations, we are using 100% recycled paperboard in the boxes that we use for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream bars in the U.S.
We are confident that we can continue to improve our primary packaging materials, such as pints and 500 ml tubs, in the years ahead. Our long-term goals include using unbleached paperboard and finding food-safe renewable resins that can make our packaging fully compostable.
On an ongoing basis, we are working to improve the materials used in Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops, such as bowls, spoons, drink cups, napkins. For example, in the U.S., we have used unbleached paper in our napkins for many years and our drink cups, while made of plastic, are recyclable and have been light-weighted to use as little material as possible.
Corporate Office Materials
In our corporate office, we have made significant strides in using environmentally friendly materials, including 100% post-consumer recycled and process chlorine-free paper; compostable dinnerware, green cleaning solutions, low-VOC paints, and flooring that is recyclable.
Note: We have not yet developed metrics that track our progress towards improving the environmental attributes of our secondary packaging, scoop shop packaging or our office materials. We will keep working on it!
In 2011, when we got the green light from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use hydrocarbon (HC) freezers in the U.S., we launched a pilot test with 250 of these next-generation freezers. The success of the pilot cleared the path and in 2012, we rolled out an additional 840 HC freezers in our supply chain for a total of 1,090 cabinets. In 2013, we were up to 4,588 freezers in the U.S.
Supporting Stronger Climate Policy
In 2013, we continued to engage with BICEP, or, spelled out, Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy. BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation that will enable a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.
As a member of the coalition, in 2013, we made several trips to Capitol Hill to persuade lawmakers to act and supported several campaigns encouraging Congressional leaders to make legislative decisions supportive of clean energy policies and to focus on the vital task of passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
Historically, each of our three Vermont-based Company sites has had a Green Team, comprised of employees interested in environmental issues. These employee-led teams come up with projects, activities, and events that highlight relevant environmental issues within the Company and beyond. In 2013, Green Teams were active in our manufacturing sites in St Albans and Waterbury, but not at our Central Support site, unfortunately no one at Central Support stepped up to lead the charge. We think Green Teams do great things and hope we can reestablish a Central Support Green Team in 2014. Green Team highlights for 2013 include:
- Employees from both sites participated in Vermont Green-Up Day and Earth Week events.
- In celebration of Arbor Day, Blue Spruce trees were given to all employees.
- The lunchroom food waste from both sites was turned into compost and each site received 20 yards of compost, which employees were given for their home gardens.
- Local organic vegetable seeds were given to all employees to promote local food and “grow a row” for a neighbor.
- Green teams created awareness posters about how to reduce our environmental impacts at our sites. Topics such as water, energy and waste reduction were the main focus.
- Both sites produced zero landfill waste. This means that all waste is recycled, reused, composted or sent to anaerobic methane digesters. For example, our ice cream waste is sent to local farms with methane digesters where the methane is recovered and used to generate electricity. Anything that cannot be recycled, reused or composted (about 4 to 5% of our waste) is sent to a waste to energy facility where it is incinerated and the heat from this process is used to generate electricity.