Florida says Ben & Jerry’s change ‘step in right direction’

Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis praised Ben & Jerry’s parent company for a decision that will allow sales of ice cream in Israel.

But that doesn’t mean Florida will immediately return to investing or contracting with the parent company, Unilever, and its subsidiaries.

Over the objection of Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever on Tuesday announced an agreement that will lead to Avi Zinger, an Israeli manufacturer and distributor of the brand, selling ice cream independently under the product’s Hebrew and Arabic names in Israel and the West Bank.

DeSantis said in a Twitter post that the move by Unilever is “a step in the right direction,” but he remained “disappointed they took a year to stand against” a movement that involves boycotting Israel, divesting and imposing sanctions.

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Last year, the State Board of Administration, which oversees Florida’s pension fund and other investments, advised Unilever it had been placed on Florida’s list of “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel” after Ben & Jerry’s said “it is inconsistent with our values ​​for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

State Board of Administration spokeswoman Emilie Oglesby said in an email Friday that “at this time, it does not appear that the status of Unilever remaining on the state’s ‘Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List’ would change.”

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When the state board took action last year, Florida had about $139 million in holdings in Unilever and its subsidiaries.

“As we continue to review and learn more about this development, we will analyze such in the context of our statutory directives and act accordingly,” Oglesby said in the email.

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