2009 Social & Environmental
A LETTER FROM OUR CEO
While 2009 may have been a year that many companies would like to forget, I am pleased to say that it was a landmark year for Ben & Jerry’s. Yes, the numbers will show that 2009 was a difficult year for Ben & Jerry’s in terms of financial performance. The global recession affected our business significantly, both in scoop shops and in our packaged pint business.
But I firmly believe that 2009 was one of the best years in the Company’s history – because we’ve never measured our success merely in terms of profits and sales. In addition to our Economic Mission, Ben & Jerry’s three-part mission statement includes a Product Mission, which drives us to make fantastic ice cream for its own sake; and a Social Mission that calls us to use the Company, through unwavering commitment and thoughtful innovations, to serve the common good.
In fact, over thirty-plus years, we’ve shown that ongoing investment in our Product and Social Missions is what leads to successful financial performance for Ben & Jerry’s. In this regard, we made as much progress in achieving our complete mission in 2009 as just about any year since the Company began.
I say that with confidence because in 2009, we made the decision to transition all Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sold around the world to Fair Trade Certified ingredients by 2013. We announced the commitment in early 2010, but all of the legwork and analysis to support this decision happened inside our Company in 2009.
Simply put, it means that going forward, we’ll agree to pay all the farmers who supply us from developing countries a fair price for their crops, as established by Fair Trade criteria and standards. In turn, these farmers will commit to follow environmentally sound practices and invest in their communities.
I’ve seen the amazing impact that Fair Trade has on the lives of real people, and I am convinced it’s the single best investment Ben & Jerry’s can make to promote economic justice, social justice, and environmental protection through our global supply chain. That’s because Fair Trade is creating a system through which small farmers, laborers, and entire communities can compete and thrive in the global economy, by growing their crops the right way. It’s a vision of caring capitalism that is wholly aligned with what Ben & Jerry’s stands for.
The Fair Trade transition will be an exceedingly complex challenge, so it will take us some time to execute. Change on this scale doesn’t happen overnight. We’ll make the transition as quickly as we can, beginning with our European business in 2011 and extending to our global business by 2013. And when all is said and done, we know we’ll be making a real difference in the lives of tens of thousands of farmers and their families, and rural communities around the globe.
That’s not all we accomplished in 2009 in terms of Social Mission, either. You’ll find the full story of our ups – and our downs – from the last year in the pages of this report, including details on:
- Ben & Jerry’s increased investment in the Caring Dairy program in 2009, a collaborative program we started in Vermont and the Netherlands to help dairy farmers implement more sustainable practices on their farms;
- a big step forward in 2009 towards our goal to source 100% certified cage-free eggs for all of the ice cream we make in the United States;
- the successful phase-in of Forest Stewardship Council certified paperboard for most of the pint packaging we use in the United States;
- a continuing partnership with the nonprofit group Peace One Day to teach peace and conflict resolution skills in U.S. schools;
- an all-Company meeting we held at our Waterbury plant in July, the first such gathering we’ve held in several years, reconnecting the folks who make Ben & Jerry’s great under one tent;
- a really fun April Fool’s Day stunt to keep pushing for sound federal policy on cloned and genetically modified animals; and
- our outspoken support for a new same-sex marriage law in our home state of Vermont, including the launch of a symbolic flavor, Hubby Hubby, to celebrate the occasion.
All of these initiatives speak to the central role that Social Mission plays at Ben & Jerry’s and reinforce my belief that 2009 was truly a landmark year for our Company. I hope you will take the time to read more in the pages that follow.
On a personal note, as I write this letter in early 2010, I am preparing to hand off the leadership of Ben & Jerry’s to a new CEO. It has been a great privilege to serve Ben & Jerry’s for nine years, five of them as CEO. I leave with many fond memories, from leading peace protests in Washington, D.C. to launching Ben & Jerry’s in several new countries, to bringing extraordinary new flavors to ice cream lovers everywhere. I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together against all three parts of Ben & Jerry’s Mission, especially because I believe so deeply in the value of that Mission.
I extend my thanks to all the people of Ben & Jerry’s, past and present, who have worked with such heart and dedication to make 2009 a successful year and to help Ben & Jerry’s live up to its highest ideals.
Peace, Love & Ice Cream
Chief Euphoria Officer
HIGHLIGHTS IN 2009
Welcome to Ben & Jerry’s 2009 Social and Environmental Assessment Report. Here’s a glance at some of our most notable efforts from the past year to make positive change in the world through our business.
Ben & Jerry’s has 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.
WE HAVE THREE MAJOR SOCIAL MISSION GOALS.
Use our Company to further the cause of Peace and Justice.
Fair Trade. We believe the Fair Trade movement is one of the best things to happen to capitalism in a long time! So we’ve made big plans to go fully Fair Trade for all of our global flavors by year-end 2013, a commitment we announced in early 2010. In the meantime, we added another flavor that uses some Fair Trade ingredients to our global line-up in 2009: Chocolate Macadamia.
Hubby Hubby. Ben & Jerry’s has long been a champion of full civil rights for everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, capabilities or sexual orientation. In 2009, we lobbied legislators in our home state of Vermont to support a bill allowing same-sex marriage – and we were thrilled when the bill narrowly passed. We shared our excitement with the world by unveiling the flavor Hubby Hubby – actually a symbolic renaming of our iconic flavor, Chubby Hubby®, for one day. We took a scoop truck to the state capital to give away our new flavor – which got more media attention than anything else we did in 2009.
Peace Partnerships. We’re working with nonprofit organizations who are leading the way to create a more just and peaceful world, such as Peace One Day. In 2009, we gave them financial support to distribute curriculum materials that teach peace and conflict resolution in more than 4,000 New England schools. In the Netherlands, we continued our support for War Child, an organization that rehabilitates child soldiers in war-torn countries. We spread the word about their work at more than 30 of our Peace, Love, and Ice Cream festivals in the summertime, and also donated a portion of the proceeds from sales of our flavor Peace of Cake to this great organization.
Ben & Jerry's Foundation. We continued our financial support of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which offers small grants to nonprofit, grassroots organizations throughout the United States working for progressive social change. In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s contributed $2,001,550 to the Foundation, up 3 percent from 2008.
Scoop Shop Community Action. We also want to recognize the men and women who own and operate franchised Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops for the positive impact they are having on their local communities. In 2009, we estimate that our franchisees directly contributed more than $600,000 in time, ice cream, and sponsorships in support of community projects. At other events, such as Free Cone Day, Ben & Jerry’s franchisees leveraged even more support for valuable projects around the country through their efforts.
Harmonize Our Global Supply Chain and Ensure its Alignment with Our Values
Cage-free & Free-range Eggs. In 2009, we took a big step forward on cage-free egg sourcing. For the full year, we sourced 83 percent of the eggs used in our U.S. production from cage-free farms, up from 30 percent the previous year. We have been using eggs from free-range hens for all of our European production since 2004. Our goal is to use only Certified Humane cage-free eggs in the U.S. by year-end 2010.
Sustainable Packaging. We phased in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard for our U.S. pint containers in 2009. 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. In Europe, where FSC paperboard is scarce, we are still researching the best options to meet our sustainable packaging goals.
Climate Change. We continue to work to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to respond to the challenge of climate change. In the United States, we completed a carbon inventory of our business and made further efficiency investments in our Vermont plants in 2009. And once again, we offset all of the emissions associated with our Vermont manufacturing facilities and employee air travel with the help of Vermont-based NativeEnergy, a nationally recognized provider of high quality carbon offsets. Our purchase of carbon offsets supports the development of new sources of renewable energy. In Europe, we have achieved ‘Climate Neutral’ status according to the standards of HIER, a consortium of forty NGOs. This means we’ve committed to a demanding multi-year carbon emissions reduction plan and the purchase of Gold Standard carbon offsets for all of our annual emissions.
Take the Lead Promoting Global Sustainable Dairy Practices
Caring Dairy™. In 2009, we continued to grow our Caring Dairy™ program with the goal of helping dairy farmers in Vermont and the Netherlands move towards more sustainable farming practices. We completed the pilot phase of the Vermont program in 2009 and will begin rolling it out to our primary dairy supplier, the St. Albans Cooperative, in 2010. In the Netherlands, the Caring Dairy™ program has been fully implemented with Ben & Jerry’s dairy supplier, CONO Cheesemakers. In 2009, 94 percent of CONO farmers participated, more than 450 total. We have also collected data that suggests the Caring Dairy™ program is actually helping many farmers improve their social, economic, and environmental performance, including reducing their climate impacts. Our long-term goal remains to engage all of our dairy suppliers around the world in sustainable dairy partnerships.
rBGH. We’re still working to oppose the use of rBGH, a genetically engineered hormone given to cows to increase their milk production. In 2009, we were active in a coalition of public interest groups in the United States allied against rBGH. Ben & Jerry’s lobbied against proposals in Kansas and Ohio intended to restrict rBGH labeling, using our Facebook page and old-fashioned communication with state officials. Our side won in Kansas, but the Ohio regulations are still being squabbled over in court.
Good Food Policy. To have some fun and draw attention to a serious issue, we pulled an April Fools’ Day prank in 2009 by launching Cyclone Dairy, a fake company marketing milk from cloned cows. On April 1, we admitted that Ben & Jerry’s was behind the faux company and transitioned the website into a call to action with our partners at The Center for Food Safety, asking Congress to develop a system to track cloned animals in the food supply. We intend to keep the pressure on for careful oversight and regulation of cloned and genetically engineered animals by continuing to talk with lawmakers, food safety experts, and the public via our website.
SOCIAL MISSION GOALS
The information on this page has been examined by an independent auditor. Statements marked with an asterisk were not supported with sufficient evidence for the independent auditor to be able to form an opinion.
SOCIAL MISSION GOAL 1:
Use our Company to further the cause of Peace and Justice.
One of our core Company values is to seek and support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice through our business. We intend to bring this to life over the next several years in the following ways:
1A and 1B. – Increase the purchasing of ingredients and raw materials from suppliers who are working for social and economic justice and a more peaceful world.
Ben & Jerry’s has two current sourcing initiatives that further the cause of peace and justice.
1. Fair Trade Certified/Fairtrade Certified ingredient sourcing.
Where we’re headed: We plan to use Fair Trade Certified ingredients in every flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream produced everywhere in the world by 2013.
What’s Fair Trade? Fair Trade is a global movement that aims to help small farmers in developing countries compete and thrive in the global marketplace. We believe it’s a powerful model to promote social and economic justice.
Fair Trade Certified ingredients come with third-party assurance that farmers in developing countries are paid a Fair Trade minimum price for their harvest which reflects the sustainable cost of production, as established by an independent body. In addition, farmers growing Fair Trade crops are required to make social investments in their communities and meet standards of continuous improvement in sustainable farming practices. For more information on Fair Trade, visit Transfair USA in the United States or Fairtrade Foundation in the UK, or Max Havelaar elsewhere in Europe.
Fair Trade marketing standards are set by labeling organizations at the country level and therefore are not consistent globally. Even the name isn’t consistent – it’s ‘Fair Trade’ in North America and ‘Fairtrade’ elsewhere! In addition, Ben & Jerry’s produces a composite product, including many ingredients that are not available under Fair Trade certification. This makes it difficult to quantify Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade sourcing on a global basis, so we have decided once again to present our 2009 Fair Trade status by region.
- FLAVORS – In 2009, we added a new Fairtrade flavor, Chocolate Macadamia, to our line-up in both pints and scoop shops. Here is our total as of year-end 2009:
- Four of 49 regular pint flavors produced in the United States carried the Fair Trade Certified logo in 2009 (Chocolate, Vanilla, Coffee Heath® Bar Crunch, Chocolate Macadamia), indicating that they contained some Fair Trade Certified ingredients. We discontinued our Fair Trade Coffee flavor in pints in 2009.
- One of six minicups was Fair Trade Certified (Vanilla).
- One of eight novelties was Fair Trade Certified (Vanilla bar).
- Five of 40 regular flavors produced in bulk for scoop shops were Fair Trade Certified (Chocolate; Chocolate Macadamia; Vanilla; Coffee; Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz®).
- KEY INGREDIENTS – The Fair Trade Certified ingredients used in these flavors include vanilla, cocoa powder, and coffee extract. To gauge our progress, we are tracking our purchases of the following critical Fair Trade ingredients:
- Four of 49 regular pint flavors produced in the United States carried the Fair Trade Certified logo in 2009 (Chocolate, Vanilla, Coffee Heath® Bar Crunch, Chocolate Macadamia), indicating that they contained some Fair Trade Certified ingredients. We discontinued our Fair Trade Coffee flavor in pints in 2009.
- 25.7% of the vanilla extract purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for North American production was Fair Trade certified in 2009.
- 9.5% of the cocoa powder purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for North American production was Fair Trade certified in 2009.
- 100% of the coffee extract purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for North American production was Fair Trade certified in 2009.
- FLAVORS – In 2009, we added a new Fairtrade Certified flavor, Chocolate Macadamia, to our line-up in both 500 ml tubs and scoop shops. Here is our total count as of year-end 2009:
- Four of eighteen flavors produced in Europe in 500 ml tubs were Fairtrade Certified in 2009 (Vanilla, Vanilla Toffee Crunch, Chunky Monkey®, Chocolate Macadamia), indicating that they contained some Fairtrade Certified ingredients.
- Two of six mini-tubs were Fairtrade Certified (Vanilla and Chunky Monkey®).
- Four of 22 flavors produced in bulk for scoop shops were Fairtrade Certified (Vanilla, Chunky Monkey®, Vanilla Toffee Crunch, Chocolate Macadamia).
- KEY INGREDIENTS – Some of the key Fairtrade Certified ingredients used in our European flavors are: vanilla, cocoa powder, banana puree, sugar, and chocolate candy pieces. To gauge our progress, we are tracking our purchases of the following critical Fairtrade ingredients:
- 10.3% of the vanilla extract purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for European production was Fairtrade certified in 2009.*
- 6.3% of the cocoa powder purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for European production was Fairtrade certified in 2009.*
- 12.9% of the sugar purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for European production was Fairtrade certified in 2009.*
- 26.9% percent of the chocolate chunks purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for European production were Fairtrade certified in 2009.*
- 100% of the banana puree purchased by Ben & Jerry’s for European production was Fairtrade certified in 2009.*
None of our pints or bulk flavors produced in Canada were Fair Trade Certified in 2009.
Ben & Jerry’s products marketed in Asia are produced in the United States and Fair Trade sourcing initiatives are captured in the data presented above.
2. Brownies from Greyston Bakery.
Where we’re headed: We plan to continue sourcing brownies for several signature flavors of Ben & Jerry’s from Greyston Bakery, as we have for more than 20 years, as long as they are able to meet our quality, supply and other requirements.
What is Greyston Bakery? This longtime Ben & Jerry’s supplier in Yonkers, New York, is a social enterprise operated by the nonprofit Greyston Foundation with a mission to support low-income individuals and their families as they forge a path to self-sufficiency. By purchasing brownie inclusions from this supplier, Ben & Jerry’s helps Greyston to achieve its mission of economic and social justice.
Globally, Ben & Jerry’s total spend on Greyston brownies declined by approximately 1.5 percent in 2009, due to production declines and discontinued flavors.
UNITED STATES and CANADA
- We purchased brownie inclusions from Greyston Bakery for all six of our U.S. pint flavors that use chocolate brownies: Chocolate Fudge Brownie (ice cream and frozen yogurt), Neapolitan Dynamite®, Half Baked® (ice cream and frozen yogurt), and Dave Matthews Band’s Magic Brownies®. We discontinued our Organic Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor in 2009, which had used Greyston brownies. One pint flavor contains brownies (with a different specification) from another supplier.
- One of our mini-cup flavors also used Greyston brownies: Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
- We also purchased Greyston brownies for all four of our U.S. flavors produced for scoop shops that use chocolate brownies: Chocolate Fudge Brownie (ice cream and frozen yogurt) and Half Baked® (ice cream and frozen yogurt). One other bulk flavor contains brownie inclusions with a different specification that we source from another supplier.
- We did not source brownies for our new Flipped Out novelty, introduced in 2009, from Greyston Bakery.
- We purchased Greyston brownies for all three of the pint flavors produced in Canada that use chocolate brownies: Chocolate Fudge Brownie (ice cream and frozen yogurt) and Half Baked®.
- VOLUME – In all, Ben & Jerry’s decreased our total spend on Greyston brownies for North American production from 2008 to 2009 by 11 percent. This decline was the result of our discontinuing Organic Chocolate Fudge Brownie and lower production of other flavors that use Greyston brownies.
- FLAVORS – We purchased Greyston brownies for all four or our European 500 ml flavors that use chocolate brownies: Chocolate Fudge Brownie (ice cream and frozen yogurt), and Half Baked® and Bohemian Raspberry™. One flavor uses brownies (with a significantly different specification) from a different supplier.
- One of our seven mini-tubs used Greyston brownies: Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
- We also purchased Greyston brownies for all three of our European flavors that use chocolate brownies produced for scoop shops: Chocolate Fudge Brownie (ice cream and low fat ice cream) and Bohemian Raspberry™.
- VOLUME – In all, Ben & Jerry’s increased our total spend on Greyston brownies for European production from 2008 to 2009 by 16 percent. This increase is the result of strong growth in our European business, even though we discontinued one flavor in the European market that contained Greyston brownies in 2009.
Over the years, Ben & Jerry’s has also supported Greyston Bakery with technical assistance to help improve their ability to deliver quality ingredients to Ben & Jerry’s and to improve their cost competitiveness over the long term. We did not provide direct technical assistance to Greyston in 2009.
1C. – Build key alliances with leading-edge global partners to activate our consumers on issues of peace and justice.
Ben & Jerry’s was involved in three active partnerships in 2009 connected to this goal.
- Peace One Day. Globally, we continued our partnership with the United Kingdom-based organization Peace One Day. Their mission is to drive awareness of the United Nations’ annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on September 21 and encourage action that creates a united and sustainable world. In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s provided significant underwriting for Peace One Day’s project to revise and roll out curriculum materials to teach peace in U.S. schools. Our funding supported delivery of a free DVD of the film The Day After Peace to virtually every school grades 6-12 in New England; outreach efforts to teachers; the creation of digital curriculum resources; and a tour of several schools by filmmaker and peace activist Jeremy Gilley. In all, just over 2,000 teachers registered to use Peace One Day resources in 2009. Ben & Jerry’s also hosted the 10th anniversary celebration of Peace One Day on the International Day of Peace, September 21, in New York City.
- Fair Trade organizations. We worked closely with Fair Trade organizations in the United States and Fairtrade organizations in Europe who share a mission to promote economic and social justice in the production and trade of agricultural products grown in developing countries and sold in developed countries. In addition to sourcing efforts we made to meet the requirements for Fair Trade/Fairtrade certification on several of our products, we paid licensing fees for the use of the Fair Trade/Fairtrade logo on our packaging. These licensing fees provided support for these organizations’ marketing activities to increase consumer awareness of issues related to trade justice and to build demand for Fair Trade/Fairtrade products. We also participated directly in Fair Trade Month and Fairtrade Fortnight activities in the U.S. and in Europe designed to raise consumer awareness of Fair Trade.
- War Child. Our flavor Peace of Cake™, sold in the Netherlands, is the basis for a partnership with an organization called War Child, which runs programs that rehabilitate child soldiers from war-torn areas of the world and help to integrate them back into civil society. Sales of Peace of Cake™ ice cream in 2009 paid royalties of €40,000 to War Child; Ben & Jerry’s hosted 35 Peace, Love and Ice Cream events in partnership with War Child; and, Ben & Jerry’s continued to operate a ‘pop-up’ scoop shop and run a ‘Peace Fridge’ rental program that provided additional exposure and funding for War Child.
- Freedom to Marry. Ben & Jerry’s has long been a champion of full civil rights for everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, capabilities or sexual preference. In 2009, we lobbied legislators in our home state of Vermont to support a bill allowing same-sex marriage. The bill became law, and when it took effect, we celebrated by unveiling the flavor Hubby Hubby – actually a symbolic renaming of our iconic flavor, Chubby Hubby. This effort got more media attention than anything else we did in 2009. We’ve continued to look for opportunities to support and celebrate similar efforts in other states with the help of the nonprofit group Freedom to Marry.
SOCIAL MISSION GOAL 2:
Harmonize our global supply chain and ensure its alignment with our company values.
Ben & Jerry’s products are made in seven different manufacturing plants in three countries. We remain committed to social and economic justice, sustainable and safe foods, environmentally friendly practices, and respect for people in all parts of our supply chain as we continue to grow. We intend to extend these commitments in the coming years in the following ways:
2A. – Phase in sustainable packaging materials for all pint/500 ml containers.
1. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard.
Where we’re headed: Ben & Jerry’s plans to convert all of our pint/500 ml containers to FSC Certified paperboard, or a reasonable equivalent, in the coming years.
What’s Fair Trade? FSC certification is assurance that forests from which paperboard is sourced meet strict third party audited criteria for sustainably managed forests, such as the protection of wildlife habitat, water and soil quality, biodiversity, indigenous people’s rights, and forest workers’ livelihoods. Rainforest Alliance is the nonprofit certifier for the FSC program, which we describe as the gold standard in sustainable forest management.
In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s successfully phased in FSC certified paperboard for all of our U.S. pint packaging.
We have focused our efforts on completing the FSC transition for our pint containers first because pint sales represent the largest part of our total business. We have also determined that it is feasible to transition our mini-cup novelty containers to FSC paperboard, but we have not yet made the decision to move forward with that project. Our ice cream bar novelties are already packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard, which is also certified by FSC.
We are still evaluating our options for sustainable packaging sources in Europe. Due to the limited supply of FSC certified paperboard in Europe, and our decision not to import FSC certified packaging from North America, we were not able to move forward on converting our 500 ml containers for this market in 2009. We hope to identify the best feasible alternative in 2010 in order to put a program in place.
We are still in the planning stages of converting our Canadian 500 ml package to FSC-certified paperboard.
2B. – Understand our climate impact from cow to cone and develop achievable plans to make positive change.
Where we’re headed: We have studied our climate impacts, and we are working to implement a range of greenhouse gas reduction programs throughout our value chain in collaboration with Unilever, our parent company.
We are also working with other socially responsible businesses and reaching out to Ben & Jerry’s fans to push for meaningful climate legislation and global agreements.
Ben & Jerry’s has been collecting data on – and actively seeking to reduce – our climate impacts for many years.
In 2009, the emissions associated with our Vermont manufacturing plants (which represent more than 80% of our total U.S. production) totaled 4,679 tons of CO2, down 4 percent from last year’s total of 4,875 tons. For the eighth year in a row, we offset all of these emissions through the purchase of high quality carbon offsets through our longtime partner, NativeEnergy.
In 2009, we also took our analysis a step further and completed a carbon inventory of our business in the United States, using the framework of the widely recognized Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Our inventory counted emissions associated with our Vermont production, including dairy production, transport and processing; ice cream manufacturing; distribution to retailers’ warehouses (including refrigeration); and corporate activities. (Ben & Jerry’s products made in other Unilever plants in the U.S., representing less than 20% of our total production, were outside the scope of our inventory.)
The most significant conclusions of the inventory were that on-farm emissions in the dairy production process for Ben & Jerry’s represent 75 percent of our total climate impacts in the U.S.; and that distribution of our ice cream represents an additional 12 percent of our total climate impact. Our conclusions echo similar results from not only Unilever’s research but also research completed at the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center. Essentially, in our total supply chain, the growing of crops and the production of dairy are the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions, not the manufacturing process as previously thought.
In light of this information, we’re pleased to be scaling up our Caring Dairy program in 2010, which includes resources to help our dairy farmers minimize their climate impacts. We recognize that many factors influence on-farm emissions, including some things highly resistant to change, such as the physiology of dairy cows. So change in this area won’t happen overnight. But we are eager to be a part of the significant transition that will be necessary in the years to come – including real cultural changes in the way farming is practiced – to minimize climate impacts associated with dairy production.
We do not have a program currently in place to reduce climate impacts from the distribution of our products. Ben & Jerry’s products are distributed in the United States by our parent company, Unilever, through a network of third-party distributors. Unilever has made a strong commitment to reducing the climate impacts of its global business, which has been recognized by high ratings the Company has received from independent third parties such as Climate Counts and the Carbon Disclosure Project. We will continue to look for opportunities inside our Company and advocate within the larger Unilever organization to further reduce emissions from the distribution of our ice cream.
In the United States, Ben & Jerry’s is also involved in a project to seek Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval of alternative hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerant gases that could reduce the climate impacts of our Company’s freezers and pave the way for wider acceptance of this technology in the U.S. HC freezers have already been approved and widely deployed in Europe, as they are 10 percent more energy-efficient than the previous generation of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) freezers – and they eliminate HFCs, which are a potent greenhouse gas. With support from our parent company, Unilever, we currently have fifty Ben & Jerry’s branded HC freezers in the United States in a pilot project while we seek EPA approval. We are optimistic that we will win EPA approval and when it is granted, we believe HC technology can significantly reduce the climate impacts of refrigeration in the United States.
Finally, we believe that good federal policy is a critical element in addressing climate change. So we joined BICEP (Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy), a project of the CERES organization in 2009 to add our voice to this group of leading, environmentally conscious companies. BICEP lobbied in support of the Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed the U.S. House in 2009 and has worked behind the scenes to build support for a strong climate bill in the Senate. We also reached out to Ben & Jerry’s fans in 2009 via Facebook to ask them to contact their representatives in Congress in support of meaningful climate legislation. We’ll look for other opportunities to do this in the future.
Additional information on Ben & Jerry’s U.S. emissions and offsets is available here.
In Europe, Ben & Jerry’s has achieved ‘Climate Neutral’ status as defined by the HIER Campaign, a consortium of 40 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Netherlands. We earned this designation after completion of a carbon life-cycle analysis (LCA) of Ben & Jerry’s European greenhouse gas emissions from ‘cow to cone’; making a commitment to a greenhouse gas reduction plan through 2011; and making a commitment to purchase Gold Standard carbon offsets for all actual emissions associated with our European business through 2011.
In 2009, we offset 55,414 tons of CO2 equivalents (covering our 2009 production) through provider South Pole Carbon Asset Management. The offsets we purchased were Gold Standard offsets from the Mare Manastir and Salayar Wind Farm projects in Turkey.
We are committed to maintaining our Climate Neutral status as certified by HIER through the completion of our emissions reduction plan. This work includes additional investments in efficiency upgrades and waste reduction efforts at our manufacturing plant in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands. In 2009, we also began preparation for the creation of an onsite biodigester for dairy waste that will capture methane for energy production; and we began a new recycling program at the plant.
Through our European Caring Dairy program, we are helping dairy farmers in the CONO Cooperative who supply us with milk and cream to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their farm operations. In 2009, our data indicates that Caring Dairy farmers were able to reduce their greenhouse gases in three ways:
- Production efficiency improvements
- Switching to green/renewable energy sources
- Switching to sustainably grown soy in feed rations
Quantifying the reductions resulting from these changes precisely is difficult and requires us to make a number of assumptions; but we estimate that Caring Dairy helped farmers collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3,700 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2009, representing about a 7 percent improvement.*
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the Canadian market is manufactured in a Unilever facility in Simcoe, Ontario. As Ben & Jerry’s is a small part of this plant’s total production, the plant’s greenhouse gas reduction programs are managed by Unilever’s supply management organization.
SOCIAL MISSION GOAL 3:
Take the lead promoting global sustainable dairy practices.
One of Ben & Jerry’s core Company values is to 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. Since ice cream is mostly dairy, we have made sustainable dairy programs a Social Mission priority.
3A. – Develop a leading Sustainable Dairy program.
Working with partners on both sides of the Atlantic, we have achieved this goal with the creation of the Caring Dairy program.
What’s Caring Dairy? It’s a collaborative project undertaken by Ben & Jerry’s to help farmers continuously improve practices on their farms against 11 sustainability indicators, such as energy use, nutrient use, greenhouse gas emissions, pesticide use, animal husbandry, biodiversity, labor practices, and farm economics.
In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s and its partners successfully completed a five-year pilot study to develop a self-assessment toolkit for Vermont dairy farmers and evaluate its value in helping farmers improve the sustainability of their operations. Approximately 11 percent of the St. Albans co-op farmers participated in the pilot study, which we called the Dairy Stewardship Alliance. Of those participating in the study, 67 percent implemented changes on their farm, all of which resulted in positive improvements in sustainable performance. In addition, 76 percent of participating farmers used the toolkit to assist in planning purposes. With very positive feedback from farmers, we are moving forward to roll out the toolkit to the St. Albans Cooperative, the supplier of dairy ingredients to our Vermont manufacturing plants.
The end of this pilot study and the final revision of the toolkit marks the completion of our goal to develop a leading sustainable dairy program. To mark this progress, we have adopted the name ‘Caring Dairy-US’ for the Vermont program to align with our sister program (Caring Dairy) in the Netherlands.
In Europe, the Caring Dairy program was implemented in 2003 and fully scaled up in 2008 with Ben & Jerry’s dairy supplier, CONO Cheesemakers, a cooperative of about 500 farmers. Participating farmers commit to an annual sustainability audit, participation in three workshops a year, and implementation of the improvement plans arising out of the workshops.
Both Caring Dairy programs have also been aligned with the principles of Unilever’s sustainable agriculture program, in order to build and maintain ongoing support for the program within our parent Company.
Globally, we now shift our focus to the second part of our sustainable dairy goal, which is to extend the Caring Dairy program to all of our dairy suppliers.
3B. – Engage all our dairy suppliers globally in our Sustainable Dairy programs.
Where we’re headed: We intend to roll out the Caring Dairy program to all of our dairy suppliers around the globe in the years ahead.
In 2009, we completed the development phase of the Caring Dairy program in Vermont, which engaged 52 dairy farmers in the adoption of more sustainable practices (See Goal 3A, above). Going forward, we will build on this initial group of farmers as we expand the program to the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery at large, which supplies milk and cream for approximately 80 percent of our production in the United States. Our short term goal in 2010 is to have 100 dairy farmers participating in the Caring Dairy-US program, which represents about 20 percent of the membership of the St. Albans Cooperative. Those farmers participating in the program will receive a price premium on the milk they sell to Ben & Jerry’s.
We do not yet have sustainable dairy programs in place for the suppliers of milk and cream for Ben & Jerry’s products produced in Henderson, Nevada; or Sikeston, Missouri, which represent less than 20 percent of our total U.S. production. We plan to extend the Caring Dairy program to these suppliers once we have made substantial progress on implementing the Vermont program.
We do not have a sustainable dairy program in place for our milk supply in Canada. Such a program has been difficult to implement in Canada because the dairy market is controlled by a federal supply management system. We have significant work to do to research the best path forward in Canada.
In Europe, Ben & Jerry’s purchases milk and cream from one supplier, CONO Cheesemakers, a cooperative of about 500 farmers. In 2009, 94 percent of CONO farmers were enrolled in the Caring Dairy program, totaling about 460 farmers in all.
The Caring Dairy program in the Netherlands requires farmers to participate in workshops to learn how to benchmark and improve their performance on different sustainability indicators. Over 160 workshops were organized in 2009 to support the farmers in the program, up from the 131 workshops offered last year. Farmers track their progress by recording farm-level data through the use of custom-designed software.
We have already seen positive results from implementing the Caring Dairy program. Highlights include evidence that farmers in the program are seeing higher milk production per cow and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their operations by about 7 percent. This adds up to a reduction in emissions of more than 3,700 metric tons of CO2 equivalents for milk supplied to Ben & Jerry’s, below a business-as-usual scenario.
In 2009, Caring Dairy partners CONO Cheesemakers and Ben & Jerry’s also invested in a sustainable cow feed program that will support the production of sustainable soy and fair trading terms for soy farmers in developing countries.
3C. – Activate consumers on issues related to sustainable dairy production and the preservation of family farms.
1. To have some fun and draw attention to a serious issue, we pulled an April Fools’ Day prank in 2009 by launching Cyclone Dairy, a fake company marketing milk from cloned cows. We’ve been concerned about the issue of cloned animals in the food supply for several years due to questions about food safety, animal welfare, and consumer acceptance; even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved foods from cloned animals for human consumption in January 2008.
We tried not to leave our fingerprints when we unveiled the Cyclone Dairy website in mid-March; and we wore Cyclone Dairy lab coats to a milk sampling event in New York City, where we captured the surprised responses of people on the street. Several bloggers noted Cyclone’s launch and we enjoyed the online chatter about whether the company was real or not. On April 1, we admitted in a press release that Ben & Jerry’s was behind the fake company and that while Cyclone Dairy wasn’t real, it could be. We transitioned the website into a call to action with our partners at The Center for Food Safety, asking Congress to develop a system to track cloned animals in the food supply. More than 7,000 people took action on the issue through the CFS website.
In October 2009, we set up a Cyclone Dairy booth at the Green Festival in Washington, D.C. where we talked to thousands of festival-goers about the issue of cloned animals – and sampled Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We intend to keep the pressure on for careful oversight and regulation of cloned and genetically engineered animals by talking with lawmakers, food safety experts, and the public via our website.
2. We’re still working to oppose the use of rBGH, a genetically engineered hormone given to cows to increase their milk production. We believe rBGH is an unnecessary technology that causes increased health risks to cows.
In 2009, we continued to support the right of dairy companies to put rBGH labels on dairy products, so consumers can have enough information to make educated choices. We were active in a coalition of public interest groups in the United States allied against rBGH and in support of rBGH labeling. Ben & Jerry’s lobbied against a bill in the Kansas legislature that would have restricted rBGH labeling, contacting several state legislators and Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who ultimately vetoed the bill. We used the Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page to educate our fans in Ohio about unfavorable rBGH labeling regulations, and to try to build public pressure on the Governor to drop the new regulations. The Ohio regulations are still held up in a lawsuit. We will keep working to oppose the use of rBGH and to defeat unreasonable restrictions on rBGH labeling.
Neither rBGH nor cloned cows have been approved for use in the European Union. We are paying close attention to the regulatory response to cloned animals to look for opportunities to make our voice heard if necessary. But so far, our view on these technologies has been mostly in line with policy makers.
How We Work
Ben & Jerry’s has been making the finest all natural 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.
Today, Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, and our packaged ice cream and novelties are sold in stores across the United States and in 29 other countries around the world. Our products are produced in pints, quarts, 500 ml cups, 2.4-gallon tubs, single-serve cups and individual novelties and are distributed in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, scoop shops, restaurants and other venues. Outside of North America, Ben & Jerry’s products are marketed and distributed by affiliated companies within Unilever, and a third-party licensee in Israel.
Ben & Jerry’s global business is managed out of our Central Support office in South Burlington, Vermont. Within Unilever, we are grouped with the Breyers®, Klondike®, Popsicle® and Good Humor® brands in the U.S. Ice Cream division, managed out of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors
Our Chief Euphoria Officer Walt Freese receives feedback and counsel on the Company’s direction from an independent Board of Directors, established at the time of the Unilever acquisition. The Board is responsible for advising and supporting 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 quarterly, includes several former directors of the Company with longstanding ties to the brand. Once again in 2009, the Board played a significant role in advising Ben & Jerry’s senior management on a number of important decisions. Notably, the Board provided strong support for the scale-up of the Values-Led Sourcing program, including a commitment to pursuing Fair Trade certification across all Ben & Jerry’s products sold globally by 2013.
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.
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. Our frozen novelties are manufactured at Unilever facilities in Sikeston, Missouri and Hagerstown, Maryland.
At the end of 2009, Ben & Jerry’s employed 510 people globally, as compared to 529 in 2008. The decline is primarily due to the closure of three Company-owned scoop shops in 2009. Unilever’s Hellendoorn manufacturing plant, which makes Ben & Jerry’s for a significant portion of its production, employs approximately 200 people; and about 25 Unilever employees (amounting to 14.5 full-time equivalents) across the globe work on sales, marketing, and related functions for the Ben & Jerry’s brand.
s a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s reports financial results for the purpose of this report based on an annual revenue reporting range provided by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). For 2009, Ben & Jerry’s revenue was between $200 million and $500 million.
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.
The information on this page has been examined by an independent auditor. Statements marked with an asterisk were not supported with sufficient evidence for the independent auditor to be able to form an opinion.
In order to make ice cream that’s a force for positive change, Ben & Jerry’s continues to search for ingredient suppliers 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 the disadvantaged, leading the way to more sustainable environmental or agricultural practices, or serving the cause of peace and justice. We call this project “Values-Led Sourcing” (VLS).
Ben & Jerry’s took several steps forward in our Values-Led Sourcing program in 2009:
- We began the transition of our United States pint packaging to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paperboard;
- We added Chocolate Macadamia, a new flavor with Fair Trade/Fairtrade ingredients to our global line up;
- We brought all of our European dairy purchasing into the Caring Dairy program;
- We accelerated the transition to using only cage-free eggs in our U.S. supply chain.
We also made several commitments to grow existing VLS programs over the next several years, including a plan to move to Fair Trade sourcing for all eligible ingredients across our global portfolio by 2013; and a plan to expand our Caring Dairy program in Vermont.
By the numbers, 40 percent of the raw material spend (i.e., ingredients, dairy, packaging) for our North American production went to Values-Led Sourcing initiatives, up from 38 percent in 2008. In Europe, 53 percent of our total ingredient spend went to VLS initiatives, up from 42 percent in 2008.* The large jump in Europe came about because we completed the full scale-up of our Caring Dairy program in 2009. We anticipate that our VLS spend percentage will continue to rise in the next several years as we embark on an ambitious scale-up of several VLS initiatives.
Some of the Values-Led Sourcing companies, organizations and ingredients that are a part of our supply chain include:
Milk & Cream
The St. Albans Cooperative has been our partner and primary supplier of cream and condensed milk ingredients in the United States for many years. The Co-op is a Vermont organization made up of some 500 family farmers. As we have since 1993, Ben & Jerry’s requires the farmers of the Co-op to pledge not to treat the cows that produce our milk and cream with rBGH, a synthetic growth hormone. All of our other U.S. suppliers of milk and cream have also confirmed to us that their farmers do not treat cows with rBGH.
We buy milk and cream for our European production from Dutch family farmers. In 2009, all of our dairy ingredients came from farmers in the CONO Cooperative, our partner in Ben & Jerry’s Caring Dairy program. All of these dairy ingredients are supplied without the use of rBGH, since this hormone has not been approved for use on dairy cows in the European Union.
Taking the lead on sustainable dairy is one of our Social Mission priorities. Read more about how we’re working to accomplish our goals.
The brownies in several of our flavors, including Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Half Baked®, Magic Brownies®, Neopolitan Dynamite® and Bohemian Raspberry® come from the Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY, our partner since 1988. 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!
Buying brownies from Greyston Bakery is one way we’re addressing our Social Mission priorities. You can read more here.
Fair Trade Ingredients
The Fair Trade movement (called Fairtrade outside North America) is an effort to help small-scale farmers in developing countries compete and thrive in the global marketplace. We believe that the idea of Fair Trade aligns nicely with Ben & Jerry’s core value to promote social and economic justice. The Fair Trade/Fairtrade logo is an assurance that farmers who grow key ingredients used in our ice cream are paid a fair price for their harvest, are members of democratically organized cooperatives, and are pursuing sustainable farming practices.
Ben & Jerry’s is committed to increasing the number and volume of ingredients that it sources on Fair Trade/Fairtrade terms in the coming years. By 2013, we plan to make every flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with Fair Trade/Fairtrade ingredients. Since only imported ingredients are available on Fair Trade terms, not every ingredient we use will be available on Fair Trade terms, but we’ll use all the Fair Trade ingredients we can as a part of this commitment. Here are some of the highlights of our current Fair Trade sourcing:
- The coffee extract we use in our coffee flavors in the United States (Coffee, Coffee Heath® Bar Crunch, Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz®) is Fair Trade Certified and comes from the Huatusco Cooperative, in Veracruz, Mexico.
- The vanilla extract in Ben & Jerry’s Smooth Vanilla and Chocolate Macadamia ice cream produced globally is made with Fair Trade/Fairtrade vanilla beans from farmers in India, Indonesia, Uganda, and elsewhere.
- Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey® ice cream produced for the European market is made with Ecuadorian-grown and Fairtrade bananas from El Guabo Cooperative.
- The cocoa powder in Ben & Jerry’s Smooth Chocolate ice cream in the U.S. and Chocolate Macadamia ice cream around the world, and in the chunks and coatings for our European flavors Chunky Monkey® and Vanilla Toffee Crunch are Fair Trade/Fairtrade Certified, from cooperatives in the Dominican Republic and West Africa.
- As it says right on the pint, all Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade flavors produced for the European market are made entirely with Fairtrade sugar, grown in Manduvira Cooperative in Paraguay. In 2009, these flavors included Vanilla Toffee Crunch, Chunky Monkey®, Chocolate Macadamia and Smooth Vanilla, and we’ll be growing the list in the years to come.
We are on the path to achieving our goal of using only Certified Humane Cage-Free eggs in the U.S. by 2010. We are already sourcing all of our eggs used in our European ice cream from third-party certified ‘free-range’ suppliers. These standards ensure that laying hens have wholesome, nutritious food, access to clean water, and adequate space to engage in normal behaviors, among other criteria crafted by veterinary professionals.
Using cage-free and free-range egg suppliers is one of the ways we’re addressing our Social Mission priorities. You can get the details here.
In 2009, we made a transition to using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified paperboard for Ben & Jerry’s pint containers and lids. It’s a plan we’ve been hatching for several years. FSC certification means that the paper pulp comes from forests that are sustainably managed, including the protection of biodiversity, wildlife habitat, indigenous people’s rights, and workers’ rights.
Sourcing FSC certified paperboard is one way we’re addressing our Social Mission priorities.
Some of the nut products we use in our ice cream in the U.S. are supplied by the Superior Nut Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This company has a strong environmental commitment, and has been recognized with an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its tropical forest plantation in Central America. The plantation sequesters as much carbon dioxide every year as the company emits in its manufacturing operations.
Outside of our Values-Led Sourcing initiatives...
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.
SOCIAL MISSION CAMPAIGNS & FLAVORS
At Ben & Jerry’s, we believe that we should use our products and our brand recognition to raise awareness about serious issues, from Climate Change to Fair Trade.
Here’s the short story on the campaigns we mounted and the unique products we sold in 2009 with a Social Mission flavor.
Yes, Pecan! (US)
To celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, we switched the name of Butter Pecan to “Yes, Pecan!” in our scoop shops in the United States for the month of January. In collaboration with the nonprofit group Common Cause, we used the media attention we attracted, as well as our Facebook and web presence, to call for more transparency and accountability in government in the new administration. Ben & Jerry’s made a cash contribution to the Common Cause Education Fund for every person who made a donation to Common Cause through our appeal – and we also kicked in a little bit for everyone who friended Common Cause on Facebook at our urging. Altogether, we gave $20,000 to the Common Cause Education Fund in 2009 as a part of this campaign.
Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie (US)
For the first time ever, Ben & Jerry’s paired up with an athlete for a product promotion in 2009, when we made a flavor to honor native Vermonter and snowboard wizard, Hannah Teter. Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie was inspired by Hannah’s love for maple syrup and her family’s long history of making syrup every winter. The flavor also pays a royalty to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization helping communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Hannah’s project through World Vision brings clean water and better sanitation to the rural community of Kirindon in Kenya.
Hubby Hubby (US)
Ben & Jerry’s has long been a champion of full civil rights for everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, capabilities or sexual orientation. In 2009, we lobbied legislators in our home state of Vermont to support a bill allowing same-sex marriage – and we shared our excitement when the new law took effect by unveiling the flavor Hubby Hubby – actually a symbolic renaming of our iconic flavor, Chubby Hubby, for one day. We took a scoop truck to the state capitol to give away the new flavor. Hubby Hubby got more media attention than anything else we did in 2009. We’ve continued to look for opportunities to support similar efforts in other states with the help of the nonprofit group Freedom to Marry.
Royalties paid to nonprofit organizations
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 (and their 2009 contributions) include:
- NEW in 2009! Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie (US) – $5,589 to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization helping communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. (See above.) Hannah’s project through World Vision brings clean water and better sanitation to the rural community of Kirindon in Kenya.
- Fairtrade Certified Vanilla, Chunky Monkey®, Chocolate Macadamia, and Vanilla Toffee Crunch (EU) – contribute funds that support the work of Fairtrade labeling organizations in Europe and around the world – in addition to Fairtrade premiums paid to farmers for the ingredients they grow for us.
- Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream™ (US) – $143,669 to the Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund and its mission to benefit children, veterans, and the environment.
- Dave Matthews Band’s Magic Brownies® (US) – $22,491 to Bama Works, a nonprofit organization that supports charitable programs in the Charlottesville, Virginia area including those serving disadvantaged youth, the disabled, protection of the environment, and the arts and humanities.
- Butter Pecan (US) – $2,852 to The Tom Joyner Foundation and its efforts to help students continue their education at historically black colleges. We ended this nonprofit royalty payment in early 2009 when we used the Butter Pecan flavor for the Yes, Pecan! promotion in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama as President. (See above.)
- Phish Food® (global) – $41,879 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.
- Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler™ (US) – $59,855 to Farm Aid and its ongoing mission to support family-farm centered agriculture in America and to keep family farmers on their land.
- Bohemian Raspberry™ (EU) – €66,043 to the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS awareness charity set up in memory of the late Freddy Mercury, the one-of-a-kind leader of the rock band Queen.
- Peace of Cake™ (Netherlands only) – €40,000 to War Child, a Dutch nonprofit group that works to rehabilitate child soldiers from war-torn countries and to help them re-integrate into society.
- Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road™ (US) – Following on the success of our 2008 limited release of this flavor in honor of singer Elton John’s first visit to Vermont, we decided to whip up a limited batch of the flavor to sell in pints in 2009. We gave a portion of the proceeds to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, totaling $17,154.
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 a small number of company-owned stores. Some of our scoop shops are what we call a PartnerShop®, owned and operated by a nonprofit organization. By the numbers:
United States, Canada, Bahamas & Caribbean
- 354 franchised scoop shops
- 6 franchises operated by non-profits (PartnerShop® stores)
- 4 company-owned stores (Vermont)
Europe (16 countries)
- 374 franchised scoop shops, plus 24 seasonal carts
- 1 company-owned store (UK)
Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel)
- 20 franchised scoop shops
- 1 company-owned store (Singapore)
Latin America (Mexico)
- 55 franchised scoop shops
- 1 company-owned store
Franchise System — Riding Out the Recession
Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop business had ups and downs in 2009. We saw strong growth in some of our new markets in 2009, including the Nordic countries and Mexico. Our first scoop shop opening in Australia was a huge success, and we grew in cinema locations in Europe. Other markets, however, including many parts of the United States, struggled in the second year of a broad-based economic recession. Two trends in particular hurt business in Ben & Jerry’s U.S. scoop shops: consumers spent fewer dollars eating out; and many chose lower-quality, lower-budget ice cream when they did go out for a treat. On average, we saw a decline in same-store sales in the U.S. from 2008, and we closed more stores than we opened over the course of the year. We responded with several new and strengthened programs and policies to support our franchisees and to help them succeed.
Jump Start Program
We continued to offer the Jump Start program to support struggling U.S. franchisees as they worked to put their business on more solid footing. The Jump Start program, which offers additional operational and marketing support and royalty waivers, supported 22 shops in 2009.
Pricing and Cost Savings
We held the price of bulk ice cream, yogurts and sorbets that we supply to franchisees stable for the third year in a row in 2009. In addition, we created a pint rebate program that effectively allows franchisees to purchase pints from us for re-sale at the lowest price available to any retailer in the U.S. We also worked with third party vendors to reduce the cost of other essential materials and services purchased by our franchisees. All three measures directly helped franchisees keep costs down during the recession.
Marketing and Sponsorship Support
We know that it’s more important than ever to get the word out about our scoop shops and the amazing ice cream we sell when the economy’s sputtering. So, with input from our franchisees, we made a few tweaks to our Magical Media Program in 2009 to give franchisees in the United States more control over how to spend local marketing and advertising dollars. We also rolled out a company-funded sponsorship program that provided some reimbursement to franchisees who sponsored events aligned with Ben & Jerry’s core values.
Gift Card Program
We implemented a Gift Card program in two regions of the U.S., on the way to a national roll out. Where we have implemented the program, we’re already seeing increased sales and more new customers in scoop shops without adding significant cost burdens to franchisees.
Ben & Jerry’s Chocolates
We continue to develop and refine the all-natural line of chocolates sold in Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops as a way to help franchisees diversify their product offerings. We expanded the program to include more than 100 U.S. stores selling the Grab N’ Go product line in 2009. We put more resources into testing new products that we hope to roll out in 2010 and beyond.
Strengthening the Brand
Global Franchise Meeting
Once a year, Ben & Jerry’s franchisees, staff, shop managers, vendors, and guests get together at an annual Global Franchise Meeting to network and share best practices. In true Ben & Jerry’s style, the meeting traditionally kicks off with a community service project in partnership with a local nonprofit organization in the host city or nearby.
In 2009 we held our meeting near Fort Myers, Florida. Our community project was a neighborhood revitalization effort to benefit families in the Harlem Heights area, a once- rural farm-working community that has fallen into poverty in recent decades as much of the surrounding area has been developed. We partnered with the Heights Foundation, a grass-roots organization with a mission to bring life-changing opportunities to the families of Harlem Heights and to break the chains of poverty through education and the arts.
Our Ben & Jerry’s crew of more than 200 people was divided into teams to work on exterior painting, cleaning up debris, and landscaping at about 20 homes in the neighborhood; painting playground equipment at a neighborhood park; and sorting donations at the local Thrift Store. We estimate that we contributed over 800 hours of labor. The 2009 community project left its mark not only on the Harlem Heights community, but also in the hearts of the participants who got a chance to connect with the local residents and make a real difference in their lives.
New Store Design
We redesigned the look of new Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops in 2008, and we rolled the changes out to our new shops built in 2009. The new design includes many environmentally friendly elements, including sustainably sourced wood, recycled and recyclable aluminum, ceramic tile, low-volatile organic compounds paints, and high-efficiency lighting. We also always use eco-friendly inks in printing artwork for scoop shop promotions and posters.
Scoop Shop Community Action
Ben & Jerry’s franchisees take great pride in being part of their community, and virtually all translate our Social Mission into action. In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s franchisees in the United States directly contributed almost $600,000 worth of time, money, and ice cream in support of local community projects and nonprofit organizations.
Free Cone Day
On April 21, 2009, we celebrated our 31st annual Free Cone Day by giving away more than 1,250,000 free cones in 19 countries. Some Free Cone Day participating scoop shops also included fundraisers for local, national and international charitable organizations. In the United States we raised over $200,000 in donations, and globally, we raised thousands more in other currencies for hundreds of nonprofit partners.
Franchise Social Mission Award
We established the Social Mission Award to honor franchise owners who embody the very essence of what Ben & Jerry’s was built on: the idea that businesses have a responsibility to give back to the communities from which they draw support. While all of our franchisees are involved in their communities, Social Mission Award winners are the cream of the crop. Our 2009 winner was Tim Watters, owner of the Hawthorne scoop shop in Portland, Oregon. Tim works with children in his community, participates in neighborhood uplift programs, partners with the Special Olympics, and hosts numerous blood drives throughout the year. He also serves on the Board of Directors for a nearby PartnerShop.
In 2009, for the 24th year, Ben & Jerry’s participated in the Scooper Bowl, a gathering of ice cream companies and ice cream lovers joining together in support of a good cause – raising money for cancer research. Ben & Jerry’s franchisees in the Massachusetts and Rhode Island area were our workhorses, serving ice cream to thousands of Scooper Bowl attendees, despite lousy weather. Together, all of the participating companies raised $230,000 for the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s children’s programs.
Our Company’s statement of values includes the goal to create economic opportunities for those who have been denied them, and we’ve always felt that our franchised scoop shops offer a great opportunity to reach this goal. While we do not have a formal program to recruit minorities and women to become Ben & Jerry’s franchisees, we did take some time in 2009 to revise our Virtual Brochure for franchise candidates with an eye towards making the Discovery Process more inclusive and welcoming to minorities and women. These revisions will launch in 2010.
By the numbers, here’s our track record on diversity: At the end of 2009, there were 191 distinct owner/operator groups for the 353 independently owned and operated Ben & Jerry’s shops in the United States, Canada, and the Bahamas. Of these owner/operator groups, we estimate 17% were led by women and another 18% were led jointly by a male/female team. Furthermore, approximately 20% of our total owner/operator groups were led by people of color (African-American, Native American, Asian, or Hispanic). These numbers are virtually unchanged from 2008.
As for Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop leadership, our Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) is made up of twelve members, representing all four of our regions in the U.S. and Canada. Eight of these members are directly elected by franchisees and four are appointed by the Company. In 2009, one woman and no people of color served on the FAC. At the end of the year, a second woman was elected, so our 2010 FAC will include two women.
A PartnerShop® is a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop that is owned and operated by a youth-serving nonprofit organization. Ben & Jerry’s waives the traditional franchise and royalty fees for a PartnerShop® scoop shop and provides customized training to support the unique needs of the social enterprise. In turn, a PartnerShop® scoop shop offers youth facing barriers to employment a unique opportunity for developing job skills. All proceeds from PartnerShop® stores flow back to the parent nonprofit to support social programs. 143 young people were trained and supported in 2009 in six United States Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShop® scoop shops.
The PartnerShop® scoop shops continued to face significant challenges, particularly given the serious economic conditions that a great number of our scoop shops were struggling with again in 2009. Two shops closed: the Lifeworks shop in Austin, Texas, and the Houston Works shop in Houston, Texas. The PartnerShop® model, in its current form, is not consistently achieving the outcomes that Ben & Jerry’s or our partners desire. We continue to think creatively about how we can evolve the model to maintain the best aspects of the program in a way that enhances and expands outcomes for everyone involved.
Six shops remained open at the end of 2009. They are:
- Yamhill (New Avenues for Youth) — Portland, OR
- Stadium Village (Metro Community Investment) — Minneapolis, MN
- Woodward Avenue (Goodwill Industries) — Detroit, MI
- Squirrel Hill (Life’s Work) — Pittsburgh, PA
- North Columbus Crossing (Goodwill Industries) — Columbus, GA
- Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Juma Ventures) — Oakland, CA
Youth Training Programs — Cones to Careers
In much the same spirit as our PartnerShop® program, Ben & Jerry’s has operated a Cones-to-Careers program in previous years, giving internships in our Vermont company-owned stores to young people facing barriers to employment. In 2009, we did not run this program in any of our company-owned stores. We plan to pilot a new version of the program in 2010.
In 2009, we switched to using a different kind of cup for serving Ben & Jerry’s cold drinks such as smoothies and shakes. The cup we had been using was made from a corn-based resin (PLA), but we ran into some performance and cost challenges. We decided to switch to a polypropylene cup which offered the best combination of durability, cost and environmental impact of all the options we evaluated.
This section provides additional information about Ben & Jerry’s environmental performance at our three primary production facilities in Waterbury and St. Albans, Vermont; and Hellendoorn, The Netherlands. Combined, Waterbury and St. Albans produce more than 80 percent of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for North America. All Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the European market is manufactured at the Hellendoorn plant.
Energy Use and Emissions
U.S. Energy Use and Emissions
The energy sources for our Waterbury plant include fuel oil and electricity, purchased from Green Mountain Power. The St. Albans plant utilizes natural gas and electricity purchased from Central Vermont Public Service Company. Both GMP and CVPS buy most of their electricity from nuclear and hydroelectric generating plants, which are low CO2 emitting sources. Ben & Jerry’s manufacturing plants measure all direct energy use (fuel oil and natural gas) and indirect energy use (electricity) and their associated CO2 emissions.
Changes in the energy use and emissions numbers are very dependent upon size and length of production runs. For a variety of reasons, we had significantly shorter production runs, on average, in 2009 compared to the previous years. This largely explains the increase in energy used per unit of ice cream we saw in 2009.
Once again in 2009, we completed several energy-saving initiatives in our two Vermont plants, as shown in the table below.
U.S. Carbon offsets
In 2009, for the eighth year in a row, Ben & Jerry’s offset 100 percent of the carbon emissions from our Vermont manufacturing operations. In all, we purchased offsets for 4,679 tons of CO2 in 2009.
The carbon offsets associated with our 2009 emissions will again be invested in wind projects located in Greensburg, Kansas, through offset provider NativeEnergy. In 2006, that town was literally wiped out by a F5 tornado; in rebuilding, the community seized the opportunity to turn their town into “the greenest community in the country.” They are investing in everything from alternative fuels and LEED** certified buildings to renewable energy projects.
European Energy Use and CO2 Emissions
Unilever’s Hellendoorn production facility in the Netherlands manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for the European market, though not all of this plant’s production is Ben & Jerry’s. Data presented below represents full performance data for all of the plant’s production.
To ensure that Hellendoorn is powered by renewable sources, we purchase our electricity from Essent, a Dutch power generator and broker, which is supplied exclusively with electricity from hydro-electric power plants in Sweden. This renewable energy is third-party certified by CertiQ.
Solid Waste Management
The creation of waste is an inevitable byproduct of any agricultural and/or business operation. For years Ben & Jerry’s has made it our business to not only generate as little waste as we can, but – when possible – to set goals for yearly reductions in the amount of waste produced. What follows is relevant waste data from 2009.
U.S. Solid Waste and Recycling – Vermont manufacturing plants
Non-hazardous waste numbers represent waste sent to the landfill. Recycled waste is plastic and paper material that is recycled as well as reconditioned pallets, dairy waste sent to either an on-farm methane digester or a farm manure pit and any material that is sent to a waste-to-energy incinerator.
European Solid Waste and Recycling – Hellendoorn Manufacturing Plant
Since 2007, Hellendoorn’s non-hazardous solid waste has been measured at zero because all wastes were diverted from the landfill, being either recycled, fed to pigs, or incinerated for energy production.
Water Use & Wastewater Discharge
U.S. Water Use
In 2009 we completed the installation of a production water reuse system at the Waterbury plant. Currently, a portion of the water collected is treated and colored for use as flush water in the toilets at the plant. We also have the ability to use additional production wastewater for cooling in the roof-top condensers used in our refrigeration system. Nonetheless, our water use per unit of ice cream increased significantly in 2009, due primarily to shorter production runs.
European Water Use & Wastewater Discharge
Each of Ben & Jerry’s Company sites has 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. Green Team highlights for 2009 include:
2009 Waterbury Projects
- Dumpster dive to scout out what can be diverted from the landfill
- Environmental Awareness Week
- Earth Day Celebration
- Green Up Day clean up – clean up the roads around Waterbury, Vermont
- Way to Go VT! Promotion of alternatives to driving to work (walk, bike, carpool, bus, etc.)
- Gave Out “Caught Doing Something Green” Awards
2009 St. Albans Projects
- Vermont Green Up Day – cleaned up roadsides in St. Albans town.
- Donated ingredient pails to the local conservation district for tree planting projects.
- Donated drums to local water conservation group for rain barrel making workshop.
- Promoted grow your own vegetable project by providing information and compost for new gardens.
- Arbor Day Tree giveaway. All employees received a young native tree to plant at home.
- Localvore breakfast supporting local food producers.
- Community Seed purchase to support local gardening.
- Silent Auction in support of four Vermont non-profits.
- Way to Go VT! Promotion of alternatives to driving to work (walk, bike, carpool, bus, etc).
- Hosted Efficiency Vermont – Home Energy Savings workshops for employees.
Ben & Jerry’s has always aimed for a workplace and a culture that fits with our brand: fun, quirky, laid-back and light-hearted. At our corporate headquarters, for example, you’ll see dozens of dogs sharing office space with their owners, and our children are always welcome to visit for the day. At all of the sites where Ben & Jerry’s employees work, most workplace policies and programs are administered by Unilever, our parent company. Our Vermont locations also have some programs that are unique to Ben & Jerry’s.
Here’s a look at some of the notable events, programs, and outcomes related to our workplace in 2009:
Notable in 2009
Despite the recession that affected the U.S. economy in 2009 – and a down year for Ben & Jerry’s business – we were able to avoid lay-offs and continue to hire for key positions. We avoided any increase in the premiums paid by employees for health care and other benefits. Unilever did make the decision to freeze merit increases in 2009 for some work levels, which affected some employees at Ben & Jerry’s. In addition travel, consulting, and other budgets were cut in 2009 to weather the storm.
We closed three company-owned scoop shops in 2009 as a part of a multi-year plan to focus our efforts on fewer stores in this area of our business. Two stores were affected in New York City, at our Times Square and Rockefeller Center locations, as well as one store in Williston, Vermont. Altogether, these changes impacted twenty Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop employees. The Rockefeller Center store was sold to an existing franchisee. Several staff from the company-owned store were re-hired by the franchisee, including Nilima Das, a champion cake-maker and Ben & Jerry’s employee in New York City for 16 years.
Livable Wage Policy
Ben & Jerry’s is committed to paying all of its full-time workers a livable wage. 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 2009 was $13.94 per hour, up from $13.25 in 2008. This hourly wage translates to $28,995 per year. For comparison, at year-end 2009, the minimum wage in Vermont was $8.06/hr ($16,765/yr) and the national minimum wage was $7.25/hr ($15,080/yr).
Some Ben & Jerry’s employees are eligible for bonuses over and above their base pay. In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s salaried exempt employees and salaried non-exempt employees were eligible for the Variable Pay Award (VPA) plan which allocates bonuses based on the Company’s financial performance and the individual’s progress on goals and targets. Ben & Jerry’s company-owned scoop shop managers received variable pay through Ben & Jerry’s Retail Incentive Plan which is based on criteria relating to scoop shop sales and performance criteria.
Ben & Jerry’s full-time hourly manufacturing employees were not eligible for bonuses and incentives in 2009, as the “Keys to Enterprise” (KTE) plan of previous years was discontinued. These employees were eligible for merit increases in 2009, and many did receive them based on individual performance.
Ben & Jerry’s maintains a competitive benefits package that includes many unique elements. In addition to standard benefits such as health care and 401(k) matching, all Ben & Jerry’s employees have access to company-sponsored memberships to local fitness centers; health screening programs; personal financial planning advice; on-site lactation rooms; an on-site Company store that stocks a wide variety of Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever products; and a hybrid car purchase incentive, among other things. Employees at the Central Support office in South Burlington also have an onsite workout facility and a dog-friendly workplace.
New in 2009
For the first time in many years, we held an all-site Company meeting in July 2009, bringing together about 400 employees from the Waterbury and St. Albans manufacturing plants and the South Burlington Central Office. Under a giant tent in the backyard of our Waterbury plant, we heard updates on the business and enjoyed an afternoon of games. To top things off, Chef Robert Irvine with the TV show Dinner Impossible provided us all with an extraordinary dinner inspired by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors.
We partnered with some of our favorite socially-responsible peer companies here in Vermont to create a Shared Employee Discount Program in 2009. Ben & Jerry’s employees were given a wallet card for discounts at Gardener’s Supply, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Green Mountain Coffee, and Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
We completed a review of all the cleaning products we use in our Central office to make sure we’re using the most environmentally friendly choices. We’re now using all Green Seal approved products, such as floor cleaners, restroom sanitizers and soaps, and glass cleaners.
With the help of Efficiency Vermont and Omega Electric, we completed an energy audit of our office space in South Burlington. The audit led us to replace some ballasts, bulbs, old lighting fixtures, ice cream freezers, a refrigerator and a stove with more energy-efficient options.
We expanded our Wellness programs at our Central office. We had about 35 percent participation in 2009, including onsite fitness classes (yoga, pilates, etc.), a community garden, our own Biggest Loser contest, and use of our onsite workout gym. We received a ‘Gold Standard’ award from the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness in 2009 for the third year in a row.
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. We are proud to say that this year (and once again), for the facilities where we completed analysis, there were no areas in which statistically significant adverse impact to our employees were found.
Within our South Burlington office, Ben & Jerry’s donates office space to DREAM, a nonprofit mentoring organization that matches college mentors with young people growing up in subsidized housing projects. 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 their innovative and important work.
In collaboration with our parent company Unilever, we organized a number of employee training programs in 2009 hosted at Ben & Jerry’s facilities, including workshops on Teamworking and Influencing Skills.
Employee Recognition Programs
Ben & Jerry’s recognizes and celebrates outstanding employee contributions to our business through the following programs:
- Busted Hump Award – (75 awarded in 2009) A peer-to-peer honor that provides an opportunity for timely and tangible peer-to-peer recognition and celebration of contributions to the business that are important to fulfillment of the Company’s mission.
- Applause Pause Award – Provides an opportunity for co-workers to recognize and celebrate employee contributions by providing a spontaneous, monetary pat on the back for a job well done. The recipients receive a certificate of appreciation and some Ben Bucks (up to $25.00 equivalent), which can be redeemed at the Unilever Employee Store or Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops.
- Golden Cone – An annual award in which the Company recognizes, rewards and celebrates employees who have made an exceptional business contribution while preserving and promoting Ben & Jerry’s culture, social mission, and organizational values. All full-time and regular part-time employees are eligible, and recipients receive an engraved statue and a cash gift of approximately $2,000. We honored two employees in 2009.
- Service Awards – Sixty-eight service awards in the form of gifts and gift certificates were handed out in 2009 to recognize employees who reached significant career milestones with the Company, starting at five years of tenure.
Communication and Company Meetings
The company holds a wide variety of meetings for the purposes of communicating important information to employees, including:
- Site Meetings – Quarterly — Business updates, including department presentations on new products, initiatives, and employee service recognition.
- Comfy Couches Meetings – 20 held — Informal short-notice gatherings to keep employees apprised of timely company news.
- Town Halls – 6 held — Video Live Meetings to communicate Unilever global business information & initiatives.
- Round Tables — 6 held — On-site, informal meetings with company leadership over lunch open to all employees to share information on projects or concerns.
Community Service and Activities
Participation in community action projects is one of the most enjoyable ways for Ben & Jerry’s employees to give back to the community. For more information on group community service activities that were sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s, see our section on Giving Back.
Our employees are also encouraged and supported in taking on individual service projects. South Burlington employees have a paid community service benefit that totals 40 hours per year. Salaried workers in our manufacturing plants who do community service on their personal time are given up to three days of additional community service time off on a day-for-day matching basis.
For the record, here are the totals of individual volunteer hours contributed under these programs:
- South Burlington — 501 hours
- St. Albans — 1,447 hours
- Waterbury — 1,052 hours
A Founding Belief
Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen once asked:
Why can’t business seek to make positive contributions to society — even if a particular decision isn’t based on the least-cost solution? Why can’t companies contribute to the health of the communities where they do business?
— from Values-Driven Business: How to Change the World, Make Money, and Have Fun by Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Ben Cohen and Mal Warwick (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006)
Jerry Greenfield, our other co-founder, put it even more succinctly:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As you give, you receive. Or, to put it in a more “businesslike” way: one hand washes the other.
— from Ben & Jerry’s Double-Dip: How to Run a Values-Led Business and Make Money, Too (Simon & Schuster, 1998)
These thoughts have inspired us over the years to think carefully about the many communities where we have a presence — and the meaningful ways we can make a contribution to their quality of life. Involvement in the support of local projects and programs — big and small — is not only good business, it’s an indispensable component in our three-part mission to make a superior product, prosper economically in sustainable ways and recognize the role that business can play in building a better world.
In that spirit, here are some of our community-based program highlights for 2009:
Community Action Teams
Ben & Jerry’s Community Action Teams (CATs) are employee-directed groups at each of our Vermont sites that make small grants to local community organizations, and organize annual community service projects. CAT grants are in the $100-$1,000 range, and support schools and after-school programs, community recreational programs, arts groups, local conservation projects, and more.
2009 CAT Projects:
- South Burlington — 90 employees participated in a workday at the new campus of Camp-Ta-Kum-Ta, a summer program for children with cancer.
- St. Albans — 196 employees participated in sixteen different projects ranging from Green Up Day to Relay for Life to Camp Abnaki’s clean-up day.
- Waterbury — 58 employees participated in projects at the Vermont Food Bank, Central Vermont Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity in Waterbury, and other venues.
Other Community Service
Individual Service — Our employees are also encouraged and supported in taking on individual service projects. South Burlington employees have a paid community service benefit that totals 40 hours per year. Salaried workers in our manufacturing plants who do community service on their personal time are given up to three days of additional community service time off on a day-for-day matching basis. Here are the totals of individual volunteer hours contributed under these programs:
2009 CAT Projects:
- South Burlington — 501 hours
- St. Albans — 1,447 hours
- Waterbury — 1,052 hours
Do the World a Flavor project — Seven employees participated in a day-long service project building a playground in the village of Yabon in the Dominican Republic. We brought fifteen contest winners from all over the world with us to visit and to share some joy and ice cream with one of the communities that produces Fair Trade cocoa for Ben & Jerry’s.
Global Franchise Community Gathering — In line with a longstanding Ben & Jerry’s tradition, we kicked off this annual event with a community service project cleaning, painting, and landscaping in the Harlem Heights area of Fort Myers, Florida. More than 200 Ben & Jerry’s employees, franchisees, and guests participated in the half-day project.
Community Involvement, at Home and Around the World
Both in our Vermont home and globally, Ben & Jerry’s sponsors all kinds of charitable activities in local communities. Here’s a sampling:
Our corporate office sponsored over two-dozen community events in Vermont, ranging from the South End Art Hop in Burlington to the Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro. At many of these events, our Scoop Truck doled out free ice cream just for the fun of it. All together, we donated hundreds of gallons of ice cream, hundreds of hours of staff time, and more than $95,000 to these community events.
We gave away ice cream worth $142,289 to various organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. We also gave away almost 10,000 free Ben & Jerry’s pint coupons to support the work of over 1,500 nonprofits outside the state of Vermont. Closer to home, we donated hundreds of gallons of ice cream to Vermont nonprofits through both our manufacturing plants and Vermont’s Finest (our in-state distributor). On top of the Company’s donations, our scoop shop owners gave away thousands of gallons of ice cream to support the work of nonprofit organizations in their local markets. To spur themselves on to even greater heights of generosity and community involvement, our franchisees decided to set aside $40,000 out of their system-wide marketing budget to fund a unique Matching Bulk Program that reimburses individual scoop shops for half of the cost of ice cream donated to nonprofit organizations.
Around the World (a few snippets):
Our manufacturing plant in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands is very involved in the local community. In 2009, we gave away nearly 9,000 ‘shorties’ of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to various community partners, including retirement homes, schools, and sporting events. We also hosted a Summer Market with elderly people in Nijverdal to give them a ‘holiday feeling’ even if they couldn’t afford to actually go on holiday.
We took a ‘Sweet Spot Summer Tour’ to seven events across Denmark, starting at the Roskilde festival that drew more than 100,000 visitors. With a solar-powered ice cream cart and several solar-paneled golf buggies, we sampled Ben & Jerry’s to about 15,000 people and collected more than €26,000 in donations for environmental charities.
We put on our annual Sundae on the Common Festival in London, U.K., to the delight of tens of thousands of people who enjoyed live music, free ice cream, and all sorts of wacky events, including Toe Wrestling. We also purchased carbon offsets through MyClimate for all emissions associated with the event. These offsets supported the development of renewable wind energy in Madagascar.
THE BEN & JERRY'S FOUNDATION
The Foundation — Greening the Grassroots.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable foundation (and a separate entity from the Company) established in 1985 to offer competitive grants to nonprofit, grassroots organizations throughout the United States that facilitate progressive social change by addressing the underlying conditions of societal and environmental problems. In addition to the Foundation’s original endowment, Ben & Jerry’s makes yearly donations based on a formula related to total sales. In 2009, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. contributed $2,001,550 to the Foundation, a 3 percent increase over the previous year.
The Foundation’s funding priorities include organizations that: 1) help ameliorate an unjust or destructive situation by empowering constituents; 2) facilitate leadership development and strengthen the self-empowerment efforts of those who have traditionally been disenfranchised in our society; 3) support community movement-building and collective action.
Notable in 2009
Technology! – In 2009 the Foundation took on two major projects: creating a new website (www.benandjerrysfoundation.org) and transitioning to an on-line application system. Both projects helped us examine and refine the way we communicate about our grant programs and processes. We will launch both in March of 2010.
Ben & Jerry’s employees are extensively involved in the grant-making activities of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, in part because Foundation dollars derive from the hard work of the Company’s staff. The Foundation administers four programs under the direction of employees, which collectively awarded grants totaling $1,444,906 in 2009.
National Grant-Making Program
A nine-member Employee Grant-Making Committee – representing each of the three Ben & Jerry’s sites in Vermont – makes grants to national and Vermont-based nonprofit organizations to support progressive social change and environmental work. Members volunteer to join the committee, are selected by Foundation staff, and are expected to serve three-year terms. Grants are made ten times a year, and range from $500 to $15,000. In 2009, the National Grant-Making Program distributed $1,152,651 in grants to 105 organizations. A complete list of national grants can be found here.
NYC Site Visits! – In November, the staff, trustees and Employee Grant-making Committee took a whirlwind field trip to New York City. Our objective was to develop a deeper understanding of the national systems affecting immigrant workers in this country as well as the economic forces contributing to migration globally. We convened a panel discussion at the North Star Fund offices where we heard from Seth Wessler, researcher at the Applied Research Center , Chung Wa Hong, Executive Director of The New York Immigration Coalition, and Oscar Paredes Morales, founder and Executive Director of The Latin America Workers Project, Inc.
Multi-Year Capacity-Building Grant
In 2007, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation piloted our first ever multi-year grant for Vermont-based and Vermont-focused nonprofit organizations that meet our overall mission of working for progressive social change through a grassroots organizing strategy. The grant provides a maximum of $25,000 per year (for up to three years) for capacity-building purposes.
Highfields Institute was selected for the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Capacity Building Grant for 2009. Highfields works to close the loop on community-based sustainable food and agricultural systems, thus addressing soil health, water quality, solid waste, farm viability, and climate change. Their program, Close the Loop Vermont, for which funding was granted, has a goal to capture 100 percent of food waste in Vermont by 2017 through effective educational, behavioral and infrastructural change strategies and engaging local community members as agents of change at the community and municipal level.
Employee Matching Gift Program
In order to encourage and support employees’ personal generosity, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation initiated an Employee Matching Gift Program in 1998. When employees make donations to nonprofits of their own choice, the Foundation matches dollar-for-dollar (up to $2,000 per employee annually). In 2009, 14 percent of staff participated in the program, and the Foundation matched $35,255 in employee donations. In addition – and as a reaction to the high cost of food and fuel – the Foundation offered to double match donations to local food shelves and programs that help low-income people afford heating fuel. The program ran during the month of December, and generated an additional $2,535 to nonprofit organizations for these specific purposes.
Community Action Teams
Each of the Company’s Vermont sites (Waterbury, St. Albans, and South Burlington) has an employee Community Action Team, or CAT. These teams review and administer small grant requests (generally $100 to $1,000) which support the work of Vermont-based nonprofit organizations. In 2009, the three Community Action Teams distributed a total of $182,000 in grants to organizations such as:
Community Action Teams - Community Improvement Projects
In addition to its grantmaking functions, Community Action Teams also direct the energies of Ben & Jerry’s employees toward community improvement projects. 2009 projects included:
- Missisquoi River Basin Association – planted seedlings along riverbanks.
- Senior Projects – helped seniors get their homes ready for spring/summer.
- St. Albans City School – constructed a playground.
- Camp Abnaki – cleaned up and got camp ready for winter.
- Habitat for Humanity – constructed homes for a local family.
- Central Vermont Humane Society – painted a new facility.
- Vermont’s Camp Ta-Kum-Ta – Assisted with getting camp ready for summer.
Plant Managers’ Discretionary Fund
$5,000 is made available each year to the plant managers at the St. Albans and Waterbury sites to be used for corporate citizenship purposes and the support of activities of local civic organizations that may not be eligible for Community Action Team grants.
The U Fund
A special fund established when Unilever acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, the U Fund makes grants to organizations dedicated to education and activism in matters dealing with globalization and social justice. Managed by Ben & Jerry’s Foundation trustees, the U Fund made five donations in 2009 (totaling $125,000) to the following organizations:
- Center for Community Change
- Jobs with Justice
- Project South
- Funders Network on Trade and Globalization
Other Grant Programs
The Foundation trustees and staff may make grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of children and families, environmental restoration, sustainable agriculture, and peace through understanding and/or in support of the Company’s Social Mission initiatives (but not for sponsorships, promotions, or other marketing purposes). In 2009, $56,750 in other grants were distributed to various organizations, including:
- Northeast Organic Farming Association
- Somali Bantu Community Association of Vermont
- Vermont Workers Center
Grant Recipient Spotlights
Though we don’t have the space to write about all of the groups we fund, these three represent some of the important work that the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is proud to support.
- Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) – HEAL Utah works to protect the health of Utahns from the risks of nuclear and toxic waste and to promote clean energy policies for the state. General Support funding was provided in support of their work to keep other countries from exporting their nuclear waste to Utah, to challenge a potential new nuclear reactor and to pursue a 100 percent renewable energy project for Utah’s electricity grid.
- Center for Immigrant Families – CIF is a collectively-run organization by and for immigrant women of color. Funding was provided for the Escuela Popular de Mujeres/Women’s Popular Education Program, which is the “heart” of CIF’s work and the source from which all their projects and campaigns develop. The objective of the Escuela is to engage participants in a process of individual and collective empowerment, reflection, leadership development, and organizing for change.
- Latino Union of Chicago – Founded in 2000 by women day laborers, the Latino Union of Chicago collaborates with low-income immigrant workers to develop the tools necessary to collectively improve social and economic conditions. The organization develops grassroots leadership from within the immigrant worker community, creates feasible alternatives that address the injustices immigrant workers face in Chicagoland, and works to build the broader grassroots movement for immigrant workers’ rights. The Latino Union of Chicago is the Midwest representative of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and uses its strategic position in Illinois to promote pro-immigrant worker policy locally, state-wide, and nationally.
- Community Asset Development Re-Defining Education (CADRE) – CADRE requested support for its Right to Education Campaign. A parent-led organization, they will seek to stop the exclusion of low-income children and students of color from the public school system. They will work to ensure the effective implementation of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s “School-wide Positive Behavior Support” discipline policy, deepen public support for preserving the human right to a quality education, and address unnecessary and ineffective suspensions.
- Battered Women’s Resource Center – Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW’s), a program of BWRC, brings together survivors of domestic violence to improve the systems that abused women and their children turn to for safety and justice. Funding will support VOW’s leadership training, development and support of survivors of domestic violence as they work to improve New York City’s Family Court, child welfare and housing systems.
What Our Consumers Tell Us
At Ben & Jerry’s, social and environmental values are integral to our business, so we encourage our fans to share their thoughts with us on just about any topic, not just about our ice cream. Many do. The opportunity that this gives the consumer services team for personal interaction with our customers and for capturing both qualitative and quantitative data is invaluable; we learn how to be careful listeners, we find out whether people think we’ve fallen short or gotten things right, and we always make an honest effort to explain where we’re coming from.
Messages from 2009
We heard from a lot of people in 2009. In all, more than 14,000 people took the time to contact us about our company’s products, practices, and social mission activities last year in the United States. The number reflects an increase of 4 percent over the number of consumer contacts in 2008. One of the reasons for the increase in contacts can be attributed to our celebration of the new same-sex marriage law in Vermont, which earned us a lot of feedback. E-mail continues to lead the way as the most popular method of communication, followed by phone calls and letters.
The amount of product praise was up slightly from last year – a nine percent increase overall – and included comments such as “love the product,” “thanks for not downsizing the carton,” and “appreciate Free Cone Day.” We also received a number of positive comments focused on Ben & Jerry’s ongoing social and environmental efforts, too, most notably concerning:
- Support for gay/lesbian couples’ right to marry.
- Sourcing of Fair Trade® Certified ingredients for our products.
- Our continued efforts to use sustainable packaging and eco-friendly scoop shop items, such as unbleached paper napkins.
- Our community support programs, particularly the work done by our Community Action Teams (CATs).
- Our environmental programs, including our push to use environmentally-friendly freezers, our support of sustainable farming practices, and overall awareness of issues, such as global warming.
The most common complaints we heard from consumers were in the areas below:
- Product Texture. It’s always a challenge to keep ice cream frozen and at the right temperature from our factory all the way to our fans; and we do get some complaints of what we call ‘temperature abuse.’ Overall, texture complaints increased by twelve percent from 2008.
- Ingredient Ratio. Sometimes our ice cream ends up with too many cherries and not enough Garcia. It’s hard to please everyone in this regard. The overall number of complaints increased by 18 percent over 2008. Reports about too few add-ins increased by 37 percent; complaints about too many add-ins were up by 23 percent! Which probably proves that you can’t please all the people all the time. We put additional resources into making sure we’re getting the right mix of ingredients into every pint in 2009.
- Product Flavor. Complaints in this category increased across some categories, with “underflavored” as the top complaint (up nine percent). Other product flavor complaints that rose in 2009 included “flavor off” and “stale/old.”
- Add-In Ingredients. We heard more complaints about the quality, taste and texture, color and freshness of the add-ins in our ice cream in 2009 (30 percent increase). As a brand that’s known for the chunks and swirls in our ice cream, it’s an issue we take very seriously, and we’ve put additional resources into trying to resolve it.
- Franchise. Complaints in this category were down by twenty-nine percent, with franchise/scoop shop item and service complaints being the most numerous (though both subject matters were down from last year, 5 percent and 19 percent respectively). There was a slight increase in complaints about the lack of use of gloves and handicap access.
- Social Mission. The number of complaints increased (up 37 percent overall). Some of the areas where we saw increases included the following:
- Support for gay/lesbian couples’ right to marry
- Use of plastic cups (in scoop shops), use of plastic prefilled cup lids and spoons, and plastic carton tamper band
- Use of pint cartons that are not compostable or recyclable
- Excessive packaging used for sundaes – (Flipped Out™)
INDEPENDENT ASSURANCE LETTER
To the Stakeholders of Ben & Jerry’s Inc.:
We have been engaged to conduct an examination of the Selected Data identified below which is contained within the Ben & Jerry’s Inc. Social and Environmental Assessment Report for the year ended December 31, 2009. Ben & Jerry’s Inc. management is responsible for the Data and the selection of which Data would be included in the scope of this examination. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Selected Data listed below based on our examination.
Except as discussed in the following paragraph, our examination was conducted in accordance with attestation standards developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board’s ISAE 3000. These standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the Selected Data are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and statements included in the Selected Data. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.
We were unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence to satisfy ourselves that the statements concerning Fair Trade ingredients in Europe, Values-Led Sourcing (VLS) spend in Europe, impact of Caring Dairy in Europe on greenhouse gas emissions, and Cage-Free egg certifications and purchases in the U.S., are fairly presented. These items are marked with an asterisk (*).
Non-financial data is subject to more inherent limitations than financial data, given both the nature and the methods used for determining, calculating, sampling or estimating such data. We have not carried out any work on data reported other than the 2009 Selected Data, prior reporting periods, nor in respect of future projections and targets. We restrict our opinion to the Selected Data.
In our opinion, except for the effects of such adjustments, if any, as might have been determined to be necessary had we been able to examine evidence regarding Fair Trade ingredients in Europe, VLS spend in Europe, impact of Caring Dairy in Europe on greenhouse gas emissions, and Cage-Free egg certifications and purchases in the U.S., the Selected Data for the year ended December 31, 2009 is fairly presented, in all material respects.
LeBlanc & Associates, LLC
August 17, 2010