2020 Social & Environmental
Welcome to Ben & Jerry’s Social and Environmental Assessment Report (SEAR) for 2020. For many, 2020 offered time for internal reflection. We thought about what we value, the sustainability of our economic system, and the changes we want to see in ourselves and in the world around us. Here at Ben & Jerry’s, we also took time to reflect on our Social Mission at the heart of our company and the north star that guides how we use our Brand in innovative ways to make the world a better place. We always want to know if we are still on the right track, so we sought feedback internally and externally from stakeholders representing Ben & Jerry’s functional departments, industry and supply chain partners, and non-governmental leaders on our Social Mission strategic priorities, impacts, and transparency.
What we learned is that our stakeholders hold us to high standards for the impacts we have on the world and for our transparency about those impacts and our business practices. They want to know if we are ‘walking the talk’ on topics that we are publicly vocal about, such as antiracism, dairy agriculture sustainability, and climate change. They want to know about the impacts of our global activism and our relationship with Unilever. And while they are eager to learn about our successes, our stakeholders also encouraged us to be open about our challenges.
The content and format of this report, our 32nd annual Social and Environmental Assessment Report, reflect this feedback and aim to increase openness about our efforts and outcomes. We discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our Social Mission work. We set out to clearly articulate our goals, where we have them, on racial justice at Ben & Jerry’s, equity in dairy and non-dairy ingredient sourcing, global activism, climate, animal care, and packaging. Where we’ve fallen short, we describe our plans to improve. We anticipate that this journey to deeper transparency around our Social Mission will take some time, and we welcome you to join us as we work to deliver the type of reporting leadership you’ve come to expect from Ben & Jerry’s.
Letter from Matthew
From a first-in-a-century pandemic to the murder of George Floyd and the summer of Black Lives Matter protests, the events of 2020 not only reshaped the world around us but also changed the way we do business.
Despite many advances and challenges in 2020 across our company, I am most proud of the incredible resilience and compassion of our teammates at Ben & Jerry’s and the endless ways they rose to meet the unprecedented challenges that 2020 brought. From re-thinking our ice cream factories to support physical distancing and keep people healthy, to the Herculean efforts of independent owners of Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops all around the world, our work was upended by the year that was 2020. I am so incredibly proud of and grateful for the people who work day-in and day-out to make sure that when our fans open the freezer door of their local store, they can grab a pint (or maybe 2) of their favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor.
Our annual Social and Environmental Assessment Report (SEAR) has evolved over many years, and this year’s report is no different. We’ve further stepped up our commitment to transparency by including more data than ever before. Moving forward, we’re making it easier to track our year-over-year performance against our social and environmental goals. We’re driven by a commitment to our progressive values and a deep sense of urgency as systemic racism persists in our communities and we rapidly approach and, in many instances, exceed planetary boundaries.
2020 saw the advancement of many important pieces of work that we’re pleased to share in this report. First, we’ve committed to some important, and we believe groundbreaking, goals for our racial equity work that will transform our company, our supply chain, and our franchised scoop shop system. We also continue to work hard to identify and pursue key strategic levers to reduce our carbon pollution and achieve our ambitious Science-Based Target (SBTi) for GHG reduction. We’ve identified several new interventions for our dairy farms and have pilot projects that, if scaled, have the potential to dramatically reduce the impact of dairy farms on the environment. We’ve also made progress in reducing petroleum-derived plastics in our packaging. And yet, you will see that all of this work is still not sufficient to curb our climate impact.
There are important lessons in the challenges of 2020. Collective action in support of the common good is the only way to solve some our biggest problems. There is little value in a vaccine against COVID-19 if there’s not equitable access to it around the world and people aren’t willing to take it. We won’t solve climate change by only changing our light bulbs. Systemic change requires collective political action to elect leaders willing to challenge the status quo. Companies, too, must do more than just take individual actions within the boundaries of their businesses. Like citizens, they must be willing to use their power and influence to take collective action in support of the larger common good. Perhaps, at least for companies, the biggest lesson from 2020 is that silence is no longer an option.
I hope you find the 2020 SEAR Report of value. I hope our increased level of transparency allows all of our stakeholders to hold us accountable to the goals we’ve set for ourselves and ensures that we’re operating our company in a way that’s consistent with our long-held values. We invite you to share your thoughts to keep us honest, and your ideas to help us accelerate positive change.
Social & Environmental
Impact Assessment Data
Where We Work and Who We Are
Office and Manufacturing Sites
US Employee Demographics
|Ben & Jerry’s Vermont Manufacturing Employees|
|Two or More Races||0.91%||0.00%|
|Ben & Jerry’s Employees by Professional Group|
|Two or More Races||0.00%||3.23%||0.87%|
1 Global data is not currently available due to complexity in our business structure and, in some cases, national regulations. We aim to increase our transparency around this topic in the future.
Franchise Network Demographics
Across our US franchise community, we estimate that only a small percentage of the scoop shops are owned by franchisees identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, with an even tinier fraction owned by Black franchisees. We will report precise data in the future after we gather self-reported data. It is our intention to use this best practice going forward, starting with the 2021 report.
Ben & Jerry’s dairy supply chain involves hardworking people and hardworking animals on farms and manufacturing sites across North America and in parts of Europe. Over a decade ago, Ben & Jerry’s partnered with dairy farmers to strengthen farm sustainability using a holistic approach. That partnership became the Caring Dairy program, and this past year nearly 250 dairy farmers participated globally.
Farmers in the 2020 Caring Dairy program produced the milk equivalent of seventy percent of Ben & Jerry’s North America dairy (cream) requirements, and one hundred percent in Europe. (Note: milk volumes were calculated on a mass balance approach and therefore cannot be traced to confirm presence in our ice cream.)
Other Ingredients (e.g. cocoa, nuts, fruits, and sugar)
Sixty percent of what’s in our recipes are non-dairy ingredients like cocoa, nuts, fruits, and sugar. Since 2013, Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with Fairtrade International in these supply chains to advance farmer resilience and self-agency. Our Producer Development Initiative (PDI) Fund supports higher income, productivity, and professional development.
|Est. 2020 Global Fairtrade Commodity Purchase Volumes & Fairtrade Premiums Totals|
|Fairtrade Commodity||Purchase Volume (KG)||Fairtrade Premium ($)|
|Est. Totals >>||43,325,453||$5,024,347|
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
|Progress Towards 2025 Science Based Target|
|SBT GHG Emissions||371,296||380,640||407,373||425,359||427,133||525,792|
|Carbon Intensity (direct reductions)||1.27||1.23||1.23||1.23||1.23||1.22||0.76|
|Carbon Intensity (with insetting)||1.27||1.2||1.2||1.2||1.19||1.19|
Our 2020 GHG emissions associated with our Science Based Targets increased 23% from 2019 to around 525,000 MT CO2e. This increase can be directly attributed to the growth of the business in 2020. Our Science Based Targets are based on our carbon intensity (amount of emissions per unit), and we have made 10.2% progress towards our 2025 target as shown by the top line below. This progress is attributed to direct interventions deployed in our supply chain as well as increased lower-carbon offerings such as non-dairy pints and cookie dough chunks. When including other initiatives we’ve developed such as carbon insetting projects, our progress is shown by the lower line below.
In 2020, we used approximately 2.16 million pounds of plastic in our primary packaging across all our global packaging formats. This is up from an estimated 1.77 million pounds per year in 2019 due to substantial business growth in 2020, driven primarily by pint sales.
|Primary Plastic (Lbs/Year)|
|Retail & Novelties||212,004||93,548||66,174|
|Pint / Tub||1,288,783||1,317,756||1,659,472|
- 3.3 million page views with an average time on site of 5.14 minutes on the company’s statement in response to the murder of George Floyd
- 66 unique activism campaigns run globally
- 1 vote by the Board of Alders in the city of Saint Louis to close the Workhouse Prison
- 15% of all Ben & Jerry’s advertising dollars went to support activism campaigns globally
- 195k actions taken on BenJerry dot com (does not include actions linked to partners’ websites), representing a 68% increase over 2019
Our Social Mission, Linked
Prosperity, & Governance
If 2020 was in many ways defined by the struggle for justice, it was also a year that reinforced Ben & Jerry’s reason for being. At an early crossroad in our company’s history, our co-founders considered selling the business when they felt unfulfilled by the day-to-day demands of their fledgling business. But instead of selling, they decided to use their business to amplify their values and change the nature of business and the world. In recent years we’ve distilled the Core Values that underpin the Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission as Human Rights and Dignity, Social and Economic Justice, and Environmental Protection, Restoration, and Regeneration.
Put in the simplest way possible, our Social Mission is to advance justice for people and the planet. We do this through a business model based on the concept of ‘linked prosperity’; that everyone our business touches—from our ingredient suppliers to our manufacturers and communities across our value chain—should share in our success. And we also do it by using our influence in society and fan-facing activism to create systemic change. All this while making some of the world’s best euphoric concoctions, allowing us to serve justice and joy. In this way our Social Mission intertwines with our Product Mission and Economic Mission to drive the business.
Since Unilever’s purchase of Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, the strength of our Three-Part Mission has been upheld by a unique acquisition agreement which places oversight for the Social Mission and the “essential integrity of the brand” with our Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors. Once again in 2020, our decisions were propelled by the Social Mission—from calling for concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy and support reparations for African Americans, to increasing our cost of goods to pay premiums to farmers for participation in the Milk with Dignity program.
The independence enshrined by the acquisition agreement was on display in 2020 during a campaign in support of the rights and dignity of refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. In a series of tweets, the UK Activism Team called out Home Secretary Priti Patel over her remarks that the UK should make the attempt by people risking their lives to cross the English Channel seeking asylum “unviable”.
The row generated days of media coverage in the UK on the Government’s policies regarding people seeking asylum, and also some concern within Unilever that the tweets could be seen as disrespectful of a sitting government official. Ben & Jerry’s believes that as advocates for progressive social change we sometimes must respectfully call-out those with the power and authority to make the changes we support. After internal consultations, Unilever senior management reaffirmed that Ben & Jerry’s has the autonomy and independence to speak truth to power and challenge the policies of leaders when they run counter to our values.
Racial Equity at
Ben & Jerry’s
Even though we have long championed racial equity through our activism, Ben & Jerry’s remains an overwhelmingly white company. For too long, the linked prosperity we have aspired to create as a business for our workforce and value chain partners has largely left out Black and Brown people because we had not yet done the work required to dismantle white supremacy within our company.
Over the past year, we have dedicated ourselves in new ways to understanding and developing strategies for the deep work necessary to uproot the systemic racism underpinning our racial inequity. Ben & Jerry’s is committed to becoming a truly antiracist company by eliminating racial disparities within the company and to disproportionately create Black wealth through our business relationships.
We are actively working to achieve equity in our workforce, franchise network and supplier base through a wide range of ongoing and evolving strategies that eliminate barriers, increase access to opportunity, and make real changes in our business practices and culture. This work will be supported by goals and internal metrics to maintain and report on our progress.
We have chosen to center on racial equity out of an understanding that the culture of white supremacy must be dismantled to achieve equity for all marginalized people. We have focused our strategies on outcomes for Black people because slavery and its legacy remain such a defining element of American life. We believe this targeted work will help us achieve our broader commitment to universal social equity.
The initial phase of this work focuses on our home market of the U.S., where the majority of our employees and business is located. As we learn and build our capacity for this work, we will expand it to our global markets where systemic racism in other forms, with roots in colonialism, persists.
In many ways, the year 2020 was a tragic year but also a turning point for our collective consciousness. Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the already precarious positions of refugees and immigrants, essential workers in the food industry, and small business owners and employees. In the U.S., after years of ongoing assaults to voter rights, the nation braced for the 2020 national elections. And the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of the police spurred global outrage and fueled demands for real movement toward racial justice.
At Ben & Jerry’s, we did more than bear witness to the events of 2020. Using our unique blend of internal initiatives and external activism, we responded by continuing to challenge existing power dynamics to advance justice for people who have been historically undermined and excluded. We are a vocal advocate and corporate leader for advancing racial justice. However, from a ‘walking the talk’ perspective, we are still a work in progress. In 2020, Black and Brown people were underrepresented in our supply chain, our franchises, and our offices. The legacy of systemic racism continues to hinder social equity in our country and, frankly, our company.
Our Racial Equity Journey
We are not standing by idly, complacent with the status quo or fearful of the work ahead. In 2020, building on an ongoing series of trainings and recommendations developed with Race Forward, we began a company-wide intensive initiative to build racial equity within Ben & Jerry’s. From June through September almost 60 members of the Ben & Jerry’s herd—about 10% of our workforce—joined one of several teams working to understand the roots of racial inequity in our company and design high-impact strategies to effect change.
Team members put in a cumulative total of 1,000 hours guided by our partner, Equity & Results, using a Results Based Accountability methodology. Starting with root cause analysis to uncover the deep underlying causes of racial inequity in our business, teams developed a set of sequenced strategies to address them, began to clarify desired outcomes and metrics to be used to measure progress, and identified the baseline data gaps that in some cases needed to be filled before setting targets. By the end of the year, we had launched several ongoing workstreams.
Transforming Our Culture and People Practices
Our work in 2020 led us to conclude that several interrelated factors are at the root of the overwhelming disparities within our workforce, including:
- We are led by white people and lack voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in shaping what we do
- We haven’t historically prioritized racial equity
- We lack cultural competence
Several strategies were identified to address these root causes and are now underway led by our People Mission team, including:
- Creating new positions to ensure expertise and leadership for our racial equity initiatives, including a Racial Equity & Inclusion Director reporting to the CEO and serving on the Global Steering Committee
- Establishing a pipeline for Black, Indigenous and People of Color talent through internship and fellowship programs
- Revising processes and practices for recruitment, hiring, promotion, reward, and work assignment structure to support an inclusive and diverse organization
- Launching a comprehensive ongoing program embedding racial equity and a sense of belonging within our culture through engagement, learning, onboarding, and activism
Racial Equity in Our Franchise Network
We concluded that the major root causes of the small number of Black and Brown franchisees in our scoop shop network are that:
- Franchise goals/metrics are sales and marketing driven and don’t explicitly drive us to look for Black franchisees or locate in Communities of Color
- There are no specialized efforts to attract/develop Black franchisees both externally and internally
- Our scoop shop financial and business model can be a barrier for Black people becoming franchisees
- The shop transfer process has barriers for prospective Black franchisees to purchase a shop
Strategies developed included:
- Setting targets and metrics specific to growing Black franchisee ownership
- Creating a new position to guide this work on the retail team
- Enabling a lower cost of entry and reduced barriers to Black franchisees, including transfer incentives, waived/reduced fees and help with real estate. As store design evolves, we will identify ways to lower build-out cost for all new shops
- Collaborating with partners to identify strategies, tactics, and opportunities for existing and potential Black Franchisees to gain access to capital and/or secure better terms
- Collaborating with partners to build a strategy to recruit Black franchise candidates, from updated Discovery materials to enhanced marketing and networking
- Building a bench of internal Black franchise candidates, in part by collaborating with partners on a business skills development curriculum
- Creating a program for franchisees who want to build a pathway to ownership for managers within their businesses, potentially as part of succession planning
Through our work in 2020, we came to see that the root causes for the lack of racial equity in our sourcing include:
- Lack of specific goals/metrics that drive B&J to seek out or work with Black, Indigenous and People of Color suppliers
- Absence of specialized and focused efforts/resources to attract/develop Black, Indigenous and People of Color suppliers
- Procurement requirements (scale/quality etc.) along with a supply chain on-boarding process that have created barriers which have tended to preclude Black, Indigenous and People of Color suppliers from consideration
The team identified strategies underway to address these issues:
- Developing baseline data and tracking for Black, Indigenous and People of Color ownership and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs of supplier base
- Developing a Sourcing Diversity Policy for goods and services which will clarify racial equity outcomes, addressing protocol and setting KPIs to drive Black, Indigenous and People of Color wealth accumulation
- Developing an onboarding program to support new Black, Indigenous and People of Color suppliers, including funding to help them comply with requirements prior to being awarded contracts and other supports to facilitate their success and mitigate risk
- Using both ingredient supply resilience and innovation opportunities to grow the number of racially diverse ingredient suppliers
Advancing Justice Through the Direct Impact of Our Business
At Ben & Jerry’s, we aim to make justice our first ingredient. Our Social Mission drives us to pursue strategies that create, protect, and enhance justice for the people and planetary resources our business impacts. These direct impacts begin with the farms where we source our dairy and ingredients and extend to our manufacturing and packaging partners, located in communities around the globe. From wages and fair pay to building climate resilience, we seek to use our business as a force for positive change. The following section details our impacts and intentions in the areas of living wage, climate action, plastic packaging, dairy agriculture, and ingredient sourcing.
Linked Prosperity Through Paying a Livable Wage
The year 2020 marked 25 years since Ben & Jerry’s established a methodology for calculating a livable wage benchmark for Vermont and committed to paying our workers a Livable Wage. We define this as the starting wage for a single person that will sustain a reasonable quality of life, taking into consideration the essential localized expenditures for housing, utilities, health care, transportation, food, recreation, savings, and tax. We adjust the figure annually, based in part on Cost-of-Living Adjustment data.
Ben & Jerry’s Livable Wage policy covers all full and part-time employees in our Vermont manufacturing plants (including contingent workers), Company-owned retail stores, and Central Office (Headquarters). While Ben & Jerry’s products are made in US-based Unilever factories outside of Vermont, our Livable Wage policy only extends to Unilever employees if 80% or more of their time is dedicated to Ben & Jerry’s. In 2020, no Unilever factory workers met this eligibility requirement outside of Vermont.
We continue to evaluate how our livable wage rate stands up for the primary employees who are dedicated to making Ben & Jerry’s products outside of our Vermont manufacturing sites.
Our Climate Impact
Our planet is in peril, and we are part of the problem. Deep in a climate crisis, we are running out of time to reverse course. And as a dairy-based company, our industry is greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive with nearly 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) coming from global livestock, and with dairy cows accounting for about 20% of these livestock emissions. We’re vocal about the need for climate action because it’s not just about the health of the planet, it’s also about the health of people and the disproportionate impact that climate change has on Black and Brown people.
Recognizing the magnitude of the climate crisis and our company’s responsibility, in 2018 we set a Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) goal to reduce our emissions across our value chain. Our climate strategy is a long-range effort, with investment targeted across short- and medium-term interventions that need some time to flourish, and long-term research on innovations with industry-shaping potential. While most of these interventions will have a direct impact on Ben & Jerry’s GHG emissions, we are also making significant “carbon insetting” investments as a means of mitigating our impact. Our carbon insets do not count toward our SBTi goal, but we believe they generate outcomes that support climate resilience in the regions and communities where we source our ingredients.
Our climate goals:
- Reduce our GHG emissions and achieve our Science-based Targets Initiative climate targets against a 2015 baseline:
- 100% reduction in scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2025
- 40% reduction per pint of product sold in GHG emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3) by 2025
- 80% reduction per pint of product sold in GHG emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3) by 2050
Our Greenhouse Gas Footprint
Ben & Jerry’s GHG footprint is dominated by emissions from dairy farming and emissions associated with production of other ingredients in our ice cream. When looking within the dairy emissions category, enteric methane emissions resulting from the digestive process inside the cows’ rumen make up the largest portion (47%), followed by emissions from manure (26%) and animal feed production emissions (11%).
Our Climate Strategy
To reduce GHG emissions, our strategy focuses on four main areas:
- dairy ingredients – includes all emissions from dairy farms including enteric, manure, cropping, and more
- other agricultural ingredients – includes supply chain emissions from all other ingredients in our products including cocoa, eggs, coffee, almonds, etc.
- product portfolio and product design – considers what products we sell and what they are made of
- our operations and scoop shops – includes emissions from our global manufacturing operations and corporate offices as well as our global network of scoop shops
While each of these areas plays an important role in addressing our emissions comprehensively, we know that some opportunities provide far greater GHG emissions reduction potential. We have identified the three main ‘levers’ that we believe are the key to making the biggest strides towards our climate goals. These levers are:
- Direct interventions to address on-farm emissions in our dairy supply chain
- Reevaluate our product designs with climate in mind
- Increase the proportion of non-dairy products we make and sell
Our 2020 Climate Progress
Since we first began measuring our footprint in 2015, our overall business and its corresponding absolute GHG footprint associated with our Science Based Targets has grown as represented by the graph below. Due to COVID-19, 2020 was particularly challenging from a climate perspective. We had unexpected business growth which increased our emissions, we shuttered scoop shops, and the pandemic limited our ability to take significant climate action at our sites and in our supply chain.
|Progress Towards 2025 Science Based Target|
|SBT GHG Emissions||371,296||380,640||407,373||425,359||427,133||525,792|
|Carbon Intensity (direct reductions)||1.27||1.23||1.23||1.23||1.23||1.22||0.76|
|Carbon Intensity (with insetting)||1.27||1.2||1.2||1.2||1.19||1.19|
Our total emissions increased in 2020 even as we made some slight progress in reducing overall greenhouse gas per pint of ice cream sold. While we have many promising projects in the pipeline, at this time we are not on track to reduce our GHG intensity by 40% by 2025. While this is certainly disappointing, we do expect to hit our 2025 target shortly thereafter and then be on track to meet our 2050 SBTi target. We attribute this near-term outlook to several factors, some of which we can control more easily than others.
- A Business Based in Dairy: Ben & Jerry’s began and has grown by selling dairy-based ice cream. And while we’re very proud to have successfully launched several non-dairy alternatives, non-dairy growth will depend on wider consumer acceptance. The change is slow and while consumer shift has begun, many of Ben & Jerry’s fans love dairy ice cream and the reality is that the majority of what we make requires a lot of dairy ingredients.
- Significant Business Growth: In 2020, demand for ice cream unexpectedly grew significantly and with that our overall carbon footprint.
- Innovation: Over the past four years we have made significant investments in university-based and on-farm research of enteric reductions, manure solutions, and regenerative agriculture with many promising results. We anticipate the commercialization of many of these new approaches as we move from a research setting to implementation in our supply chain.
- Pace of change in agriculture and scaling up: We believe that the suite of interventions we’ve been developing and have begun to pilot has the potential to significantly reduce emissions on dairy farms. We are also strategically considering how we can adapt our business model for the future, but we have had to accept the likelihood that we won’t be able to adapt quickly enough to change the trajectory of our emissions to meet all of our 2025 SBTi in that timeframe. While there are a lot of promising technologies and farming methods on the horizon that we are excited about, we also know that there are existing dairy and ingredient solutions that are effective but not yet scalable for widespread adoption across the industry in 2020. Solving the scale-up problem is a major hurdle. There are also solutions that are not yet commercially available, for example a scientifically proven, effective, and cost-efficient feed additive that reduces enteric methane emissions. Additionally, it takes significant time to trial and build farmer trust with these new solutions.
We’re proud to have set a leading SBTi goal, but the accounting methods for supply chain (Scope 3) emissions that we use to measure our reductions do not allow all the emissions reductions efforts that we’ve decided to undertake to be credited toward our targets. In past SEAR reports, we’ve discussed our Carbon Insetting approach, through which we make investments in our supply chain to reduce emissions or sequester carbon in communities where we source. These investments also help people in our supply chain adapt to climate impacts. We know that these insets do not count as reductions toward our SBTi goal, yet we have chosen to prioritize these investments because of the positive impact they make.
Ben & Jerry’s Carbon Fund
While many companies choose to improve their carbon footprint by purchasing offsets, our strategy is to invest in our supply chain to make direct GHG reductions and stimulate systemic change. The investments we make to reduce our carbon footprint are necessary and can be quite expensive. These funds largely come from our self-imposed “internal tax” on carbon. The “tax” was developed as a way to ensure funding was available annually for these important efforts and to simulate what actual governmental taxation may look like for our internal accounting practices. The internal carbon tax began in 2015, at a rate that we’ve publicly reported as $10 for emissions associated with our North American business and €10 for Europe per metric tonne of CO2e. This rate was informed by our early efforts to calculate our carbon footprint, including Scopes 1, 2, and 3. In 2016, we identified an error in our carbon footprint analysis which underestimated our climate impact and consequently made the effective rate of our carbon fund $5/metric tonne and €5 per metric tonne. In addition, our internal process did not have an automated system in place to increase the annual carbon tax accruals with growth in ice cream production. As a result, the accruals have remained flat since 2015 through 2020, even as our sales and carbon footprint have grown. We hope to move towards an accrual based on our annual footprint that will provide adequate funding in the future.
Until recently, the difference between our annual flat accrual and one based on our actual (growing) emissions has not impacted our spending on emissions reductions because of the long lead times in developing solutions. However, as time goes on we will need significantly more spending on solutions in order to fulfill our climate commitments. We forecast that we will require as much as a 16-fold increase in the accrual rate of the Carbon Fund—from today’s effective accrual rate to around $80/metric tonne by 2040, as future interventions will be more costly to implement and maintain.
Summary of Ben & Jerry’s 2020 Climate Work
In 2020 we spent approx. $1.5 million in the US and approx. 0.6€ million in Europe from our internal Ben & Jerry’s Carbon Fund on strategic carbon interventions, research, and pilot projects to support our strategy for long-term GHG reductions and climate resiliency in our ingredient supply chains.
Piloting smaller scale digesters. We believe smaller scale digesters will be scalable across many small to medium sized farms in our supply chain and enable significant GHG reductions.
- Two new manure digesters went online on dairy farms in the Netherlands to address manure emissions. They will convert methane to carbon dioxide and produce renewable electricity while reducing emissions by a combined 1,411 MT/year
- We planned, contracted, and procured a small-scale manure digester for a dairy farm in Vermont which will serve as a pilot for a new-to-us technology. We had hoped to commission it in the fall of 2020 but due to COVID-related delays, we will commission it in 2021 and expect to reduce manure emissions by an estimated 750 MT/year
Developing tools. New tools can allow farmers to model on-farm practice changes and review outcomes using their individual carbon footprint.
- Wageningen University began development of a decision tool for dairy farmers in the Netherlands that will help to develop a GHG mitigation plan at farm level. The model will cover various decisions around animal longevity, feed production, grazing and manure management
Ongoing research partnerships. Working to understand opportunities for soil health improvements as well as carbon mitigation and sequestration on dairy farms.
• We continued to work closely with the University of Vermont, and in 2020 the work studied a variety of topics, including:
- manure application methods in hay production systems
- whether healthier soils produce fewer weeds and therefore require fewer herbicide and pesticide inputs
- various innovative cover cropping strategies that increase ‘soil armor,’ including inter-seeding diverse cover crops and roller-crimper technology which enables the farmer to terminate the cover crop, creating a thick mulch cover for the soil, typically without the use of synthetic chemicals
- drought resilience of various forage species
- impact of high-quality on-farm grown forage on milk production and GHG emissions
- grazing technical assistance to help dairy farmers expand or improve on their grazing systems
Non-Dairy Ingredient Emissions
We continued assessment to identify interventions that lower ingredient emissions factors in our global ingredients supply chain with a 50,000 MT reduction goal per year
Almonds: Kicked off a multi-year regenerative almond trial in California. We’ve partnered with several organizations and scientific advisors to create a scientific study of a conventional almond orchard transitioning to regenerative practices, including diverse cover crops, compost application, eliminating synthetic inputs, animal integration, on-site pollinators, biochar and dry farming. We will study soil health, carbon sequestration, almond nutrient density, water infiltration, pest pressure, yield, bee health, and overall life cycle analysis.
Chocolate: Continued a long-term partnership with four Fairtrade cooperatives and cocoa suppliers in our West Africa cocoa supply chain with the aim of balancing our chocolate carbon impact (including cocoa, sugar, coconut oil) by planting and managing ~189,000 tree seedlings. The goal is to remove 140,000 tCO2e over the project life. Agroforestry provides livelihood benefits to communities including income and food (e.g.: fruit, timber, and medicinal plants) through diverse crop, cocoa shade, and water retention/microclimate co-benefits. This project will address urgent sustainability challenges in West Africa including poverty at the farm household level, child labor, forced labor, deforestation, and the need to support the next generation of cocoa farms and farmers. The project will be developed, and certificate of claims delivered, in accordance with the Gold Standard Value Change Program and any future revisions to its guidance. This project is not reported in our SBTi progress as it is ‘insetting’.
Electricity: Unilever North America procures Green-e RECs (renewable energy certificate) for electricity (Scope 2) on a national scale from solar and wind sources and has been procuring these RECs for 100% of electricity usage on behalf of Ben & Jerry’s since 2011. These North America RECs cover electricity usage from manufacturing, offices, company-owned scoop shops, and distribution centers in the US and Canada. Unilever Europe procures power purchase agreements and ‘guarantee of origin’ RECs for electricity from wind sources and has been procuring electricity RECs for the majority of electricity usage on behalf of Ben & Jerry’s since 2011.
Thermal: Our Manufacturing teams have been hard at work to create a decarbonization roadmap for each factory. These roadmaps include strategies to reduce the demand for fossil fuels in our processes as well as switching from fossil fuels to renewable fuels or electricity.
Food Waste: We are proud to have partnered with PurposeEnergy and Casella to begin reducing GHG emissions by processing our ice cream waste locally to turn it into renewable electricity, clean water, fertilizer and heat through anaerobic digestion. PurposeEnergy will build a digester directly adjacent to our largest factory in Vermont and we will send residual ice cream waste to them for processing. In addition, Casella will process our packaged waste by separating the package from the food and sending the food back to the digester. We worked to secure these partnerships in 2020 and are looking forward to groundbreaking and commissioning in the near future. This project will reduce emissions from food waste by approximately 6,500 MT CO2e per year and eliminate thousands of trucking miles.
Our Packaging Journey
We are very concerned about the impact that our packaging has on the environment, particularly our plastic packaging, which is inextricably linked to three things we care deeply about: environment, social justice, and climate change. As with most food product packaging, much of ours is not reused, composted, or recycled, but rather disposed of as waste. We’re on a journey to change that.
In 2018, we began work to move all our packaging out of fossil-fuel based, single-use plastics. Not only is petroleum-based plastic difficult, if not impossible, to recycle at a scale that would make a meaningful difference to our planet, our fans are calling for accelerated action to curb its use. Our initial focus has been on the “primary” packaging our fans encounter directly: the paperboard ice cream pints and tubs, dough chunk pouches, and the straws, spoons, and cups in our scoop shops. We plan to take on things like the polyethylene sleeves our pints are packed in, and the film used to wrap around shipping pallets next. Even though the total amount of plastic in these and other secondary packaging materials is greater, it is generally better managed and more likely to be recycled than consumer-facing packaging.
An initial analysis of our global plastic packaging footprint revealed that in 2018 there was approximately 1.81 million pounds of plastic used in primary packaging. Over 70% of that plastic was found in our iconic pints/tubs. We reduced our total plastic use in 2019 to 1.77 million pounds by addressing spoons and straws in our scoop shops. But in 2020 we used approximately 2.16 million pounds of plastic in our primary packaging across all our global packaging formats due to substantial business growth in 2020. Our pints now account for 77% of our plastic usage, which includes the cup coating, lid coating and tamper band. Newer products like cookie dough chunks, which launched in 2019/2020 (US/EU) are also responsible for an increasing share of our plastic footprint due to the pouch format they use and the product growth in terms of flavors and sales. Our existing pouches are neither bio-based nor compostable although we are working hard to make improvements on this product format. Our bulk tubs and retail packaging was significantly lower in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail scoop shops.
Of the 2.16 million pounds in 2020, 11% was made from plant-based sources while 89% remained from petrochemical-based sources. This overall increase in plastic usage occurred despite sales declines in scoop shops and deploying two initiatives in 2020 in our European tubs and US Retail operations:
- A new 1-side coated EU ice cream tub was launched in January 2020 and reduced the total primary plastic use by 44% per tub. The remaining interior coating was converted from petroleum-based to Biopolyethylene, a plant-based polyethylene plastic. Although Biopolyethylene is chemically identical to the petroleum-based plastic in our old coating, this change moves us away from petroleum. And less plastic means that ice cream containers in Europe are more widely recyclable.
- Our US Retail scoop shops moved from ice cream cups made of paper lined with polyethylene to certified industrial compostable paper cups lined with plant-based PLA plastic. They also moved from drink cups and lids made of polypropylene to certified industrial compostable drink cups made with plant-based PLA plastic.
Our packaging goals:
- We want 100% of our packaging to be free of petrochemical-based plastic in addition to ongoing work to make all packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025.
- 100% of products will carry packaging sustainability claims and instructions for correct disposal of the pack by 2022
- • Develop a leading process to screen packaging for chemicals of concern by 2021
Our 2020 Packaging Progress
While our pint/tub packaging has done a great job protecting our product, until 2020 it had been coated in a polyethylene plastic resin on both the inside and outside, which made it neither recyclable or compostable, nor were they reusable. To improve this, in 2020 we launched EU containers with a 1-sided coating (on the inside) made from a plant-based Biopolyethylene. Eliminating the outside plastic coating reduces our plastic use by 44% per tub. At the same time, we shifted the remaining inside coating from fossil-fuel derived plastic to plant-based. This change also makes our containers more widely recyclable across Europe. Similar efforts progressed in the U.S., in 2020, but implementation was delayed while we wait for further clarification from the industry on how to choose the best coating to maximize fiber recovery from our US containers.
Our team also continued its ongoing research into alternative materials that would support our goals to get out of petrochemical plastic and increase recyclability and compostability for our pints. In 2020 we tested biodegradable plastic materials, to support household and commercial composting. These tests included a range of laboratory and pilot trials that validate the material strength, leakage, migration, use, and end-of-life.
While we’re talking about packaging, we’re happy to tell you our pints have used paperboard packaging with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification since 2009. FSC certification means the pulp in the paperboard comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife habitat, maintenance of biodiversity, and other forest sustainability criteria.
Advancing Safer Materials
Because we believe that regulations are neither strict nor consistent enough globally when it comes to packaging and additives, we developed a technical screening process to assess and verify whether toxic materials—whether intentionally included in the formulation or present as processing contaminants—are embedded in packaging. While we have yet to run any new materials through the screen, as we make progress toward our fossil-fuel free plastic packaging alternatives ambition, we will use this best-in class tool to screen for potential carcinogens, systemic and neuro toxins, endocrine disruptors, aquatic toxins and more.
|Summary Packaging Outcomes 2020|
|US and Global||EU|
|100% Elimination of petrochemical plastic||Of the 2.16 million pounds in 2020, 11% was made from |
plant-based sources while 89% remained from
|Recyclable, compostable||Developed 1-sided coating for pints and working toward implementation|
Advanced options for biobased, recyclable and industrial compostable packaging.
|Implemented 1-sided coating, which is widely recyclable across Europe and achieved 44% plastic reduction per tub.|
|Tested technical feasibility for bio-based recyclable and ‘home compostable’ pint packaging.|
|Packaging labeling||Country-specific labeling is planned for the next packaging update (2022).|
|Safer choice||Developed a packaging materials ‘red list’ screening process to assess for potential carcinogens, systemic and neuro toxins, endocrine disruptors, aquatic toxins and more.|
At Ben & Jerry’s, our aspiration is for everyone who touches our ingredients, from the farmers and farmworkers to the bakers and candy-makers, to experience greater prosperity because they are linked to Ben & Jerry’s. To make progress toward these ambitions, we are committed to a ‘Values Led’ approach to ingredients sourcing. Through Values Led Sourcing, we use our choices about dairy and non-dairy ingredient selection and the power of our purchasing decisions to pursue positive change for people, animals, and the planet. Our Values Led Dairy Vision is that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s comes from farms that have:
- Thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers
- Excellent care for cows
- A flourishing ecosystem, including feed grown ecologically and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity
- Farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing GHG emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil
Ben & Jerry’s is primarily a dairy company, and our dairy supply chain involves hardworking people, hardworking animals, and a hardworking planet. Economic, environmental, and social complexity interweave on a dairy farm, presenting unique challenges and opportunities in advancing dignified livelihoods and mitigating the impact of climate change. Building a model that can effectively grapple with these wide-ranging factors will take innovation and perseverance bolstered by support and insight gleaned from a broad group of dairy industry stakeholders.
In 2020, Ben & Jerry’s North American dairy supply experienced some significant shifts, but the majority of our dairy continued to come from the Vermont region. However, because of a combination of factors, including consumer lifestyle changes related to COVID-19 that led to increased ice cream demand, and local cream availability, we needed to also procure cream from outside the Northeast region. Fortunately, due to the diligent support of our suppliers and workforce, our manufacturing activities continued throughout 2020, embracing rigorous safety measures, allowing us to meet the needs of our customers and consumers.
Dairy farming is a challenging occupation and faces many hurdles spanning weather, animal care, logistics and labor. We admire dairy farmers’ dedication and respect their independence. It was the mutual interdependence between our ice cream and the dairy farmers who provide us with our primary ingredient that spurred us, over a decade ago, to partner to strengthen family farm sustainability. That partnership became the Caring Dairy program, a holistic, multifaceted approach that addresses the dairy farm ecosystem and advancing animal care so that farming households thrive and increase their resilience. Through the years, our Caring Dairy farmers in North America and Europe have been at the forefront of adopting and scaling practices for healthier soil, carbon sequestration, and reduced reliance on synthetic inputs.
North America Caring Dairy
In 2020, with support and insight gleaned from a broad group of dairy industry stakeholders, we re-evaluated and adjusted our US Caring Dairy model in ways we hope will effectively drive our future vision for dairy. We embarked on the latest iteration of our dairy program (Caring Dairy 2020) with the over-arching framework built upon the incorporation of independent third-party standards for the key pillars of animal care and farmworker labor, while using the environmental pillar from the previous Caring Dairy 2.0 model to elevate regenerative agriculture even further. We believe this approach enables participating farmers to potentially capture more value for their efforts, while also building momentum for more collective progressive change within the dairy and agricultural sectors. The successful rollout during turbulent times underscores the close ties we share within the dairy farming community. The collaborative nature of our collective dairy programming works towards advancing resilience and prosperity for US Caring Dairy farmers and farmworkers who accounted for providing the milk equivalent of seventy percent of Ben & Jerry’s 2020 North America dairy (cream) requirements. (Note: milk volumes were calculated on a mass balance approach and therefore cannot be traced to confirm presence in our ice cream.)
Under Caring Dairy 2020, there are two categories of farm partners: ‘Farmer Stewards’ and ‘Farmer Innovators’. The Steward tier is quite demanding, and Farmer Innovators meet these requirements plus additional parameters while also implementing farm-specific ‘Prove-It Projects’.
Figure 17: Caring Dairy Program Standards
Our dairy agriculture goals:
- Advance dignified farmworker housing, fair schedules, and livable wages
- Accelerate adoption of regenerative agriculture cropping practices
- Increase homegrown forage and percentage of grass in the dairy ration
- Cease the use of animal tethering in dairy housing by Dec. 31, 2026 (meeting our commitment to Global Animal Partnership)
- Extend average dairy herd longevity
- Leverage innovation in farm operations to reduce GHG emissions
|Caring Dairy Program Standards|
|Requirements||Farmer Steward||Farmer Innovator 1|
|QUANTITATIVE METRIC QUESTIONS||Yes||Yes|
|MILK WITH DIGNITY (MD)||Yes||Yes|
|GLOBAL ANIMAL PARTNERSHIP (GAP)||Yes||Yes|
|VERMONT REQUIRED AG PRACTICES (RAPs)||Yes||Yes|
|COMPLETE NUTRIENT MASS BALANCE (NMB)2||Yes||Yes|
|THIRD PARTY AUDITED||Yes||Yes|
|COVER CROP CORN ACRES||60%3||90%4|
|NO-TILL OR MINIMUM TILL (no more than 3”)||50%||75%|
|CORN CROP ROTATION COMMITMENT||25% in 5-yr or less rotation||50% in 5-yr or less rotation|
|BIODIVERSITY ACTION PLAN||5% of Owned Farmland||10% of Owned Farmland|
|DEVELOP & IMPLEMENT NMB PLAN||n/a||Yes|
|CORNELL SOIL TESTING (CASH)5||n/a||Yes|
|50% OR MORE OF RATION FROM FORAGE||n/a||Yes|
|PLAN & IMPLEMENT 2 ‘PROVE IT’ PROJECTS 6||n/a||Yes|
1 We strive to have Farmer Innovators represent no less than 25% of the Caring Dairy milk volume
2 NMB assessments are being completed in collaboration with Cornell University
3 505% required, 10% weather dependent
4 70% required, 20% weather dependent
5 Comprehensive assessment of Soil Health (CASH)
6 Prove It Projects are designed in consultation with the University of Vermont
Thriving & Dignified Livelihoods for Farmers & Farmworkers
Through support of regenerative agriculture farming practices and by rewarding performance-based outcomes, we aim to promote better economic margins for farmers, which will drive and sustain dignified livelihoods for both themselves and farmworkers.
Milk with Dignity Program
Since 2018, to further shore up our support of farmworker human rights, Ben & Jerry’s pays a premium to farmers to participate in the Milk with Dignity Standards Program (MD), which spans farmworker wages, working conditions, scheduling, and housing requirements. Additionally in 2020, we made a $50,000 one-time payment to Migrant Justice to support Vermont dairy farmworkers during the COVID pandemic, recognizing the challenges faced by these essential workers as they continued to work on farms around the clock to keep the farms operating. Please find the latest key results of the first three years of the MD program below (reported in the first two Program Reports issued by the Milk with Dignity Standards Council and Migrant Justice):
|Sample of Results from Migrant Justice’s MD reporting 2018-2020*|
|(Before MD), based on 2014 and 2018 Migrant Justice-led, farmworker to farmworker survey of conditions on Vermont dairy farms||2018-2019 (first two years of MD) on participating MD farms, Migrant Justice-led, evaluation initiative|
|Participation in MD||n/a||Applied to 20% of Vermont’s total dairy production
62 or more farms each year in Vermont and New York
100% of Ben & Jerry’s Vermont and New York milk purchases covered by MD
|Worker Wages||60% earned more than $8.73/ hour, the state minimum wage in 2014||89% (2020) farmworkers earned at least the Vermont minimum wage, up from $10.50 in 2018, $10.78 in 2019, $10,96 in 2020, as compared to the $7.25 federal minimum wage|
|Rest and Time Off||60% had weekly day off
76% have at least 8 consecutive hours off each day
Few had sick leave
|81% (2020) of workers on MD farms had weekly day off
95% have at least 8 consecutive hours off each day
85% (2020) of MD farms provided paid sick leave
|Farm Premiums||Unknown||Over $1.8 M from Ben & Jerry’s directly allocated to towards improvements to farm working and housing conditions
$0.9 M in raises to meet minimum wage
$0.25 M in bonuses
$0.66 M for paid vacation and sick time, housing improvements, and personal protective equipment, other safety improvements
|Workplace Health and Safety||No participating farm had been subject to recent outside workplace health and safety inspection||724 inquiries over three years related to MD Code compliance from workers on the 24/7 Worker Support Line
557 complaints investigated-> 344 code violations confirmed -> 303 code violations resolved
146 (2018-2020) farm audits with over 80% of farmworkers interviewed during those audits.
* The report highlights collective impacts for farms participating in MD, which includes Ben & Jerry’s Vermont and New York farms.
Ben & Jerry’s paid approximately $4.1 million in US Caring Dairy Farmer Premiums to 2020 participating farmers. In recognition and sincere gratitude for the essential work our Caring Dairy farmers do on their farms every day, we provided a small ‘Thank You’ bonus check in May for the farms’ commitment to the Caring Dairy program during an unprecedented and difficult year. Otherwise, the premiums are intended to support farmers to transition to and operationalize the standards we have set in the Caring Dairy program, which we believe also drive additional economic gains for farmers; e.g., effective cover cropping results in reducing reliance on synthetic inputs like fertilizers and herbicides.
Excellent Animal Care
Progressive animal care is critical, not only from a compassionate and humane perspective, but also for its implications in human and environmental health. We continue to evolve our standards with the intent of setting a scalable model that can be expanded to the broader dairy sector. Since the inception of our Caring Dairy program in 2011, a key message we have received from fans of our ice cream is that they care about animal welfare. This shift in consumer expectation was a key factor in Ben & Jerry’s decision to adopt a third-party animal care certification. After lengthy evaluation of various animal welfare certifications, Ben & Jerry’s decided to move forward with the Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P.).
In December 2019, the Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P.) shared its first draft of its dairy standard with select stakeholders including veterinarians, animal rights groups and dairy farmers to name a few. Our ambition was to roll out the full animal welfare program in 2020. Throughout the development process, there were many discussions where G.A.P. engaged in dialogue with various stakeholders to maintain critical aspects of animal welfare while also making the standards viable for dairy farmers. This resulted in a longer than anticipated rollout timeline, which led to only beginning the process of piloting the standard in late 2020. We had four Caring Dairy farms that were able to start beta testing the standard and who provided valuable feedback on the audit preparation and process as we looked to scale to all Caring Dairy farms in 2021. In addition to being a globally recognized, multi-step, independent animal care standard, G.A.P.’s certification is also third-party audited by an outside auditing firm, which provides objective on-farm assessment that is separate from the standard developer and owner. A full rollout is planned for the fifty North American Caring Dairy participating farms in 2021.
Drive Healthy Soil & Clean Water
Supporting a thriving ecosystem is critical as a dairy farm actively participates in many eco-cycles. Reducing the use and reliance of harmful chemical inputs (e.g., herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers) promotes healthy soil and supports clean water, which in turn supports increased balanced biodiversity, which cycles back to healthier soil and cleaner water. The soil is literally and metaphorically the foundation upon which the farm and its resiliency is built; the healthier the soil, the healthier the farm – environmentally and economically.
Regenerative agriculture is marked by limited soil disturbance and increased biodiversity. Regenerative land management uses living vegetative cover year-round and limited chemical inputs. Soil health is the cornerstone of regenerative agriculture, and resilience is a goal.
As Ben & Jerry’s worked towards supporting farmers’ shift to regenerative agriculture in 2020, we continued to drive ecological cropping and land management practices on their farms. The integration of cover cropping, conservation tillage, and crop rotation were primary goals of the program this past year. These three practices work best when implemented as a package. Together, they are impactful aspects of regenerative agriculture. The aim of these agronomic initiatives is to ultimately scale adoption to build healthier and more resilient soils and farms.
The conservation efforts of the 55 Caring Dairy farmers included planting cover crops and implementing conservation tillage on all annual corn acres in 2020. The combination of these practices provides significant value for both farmers and the environment including prevention of soil erosion and limiting nutrient runoff. Over time they also fixe nitrogen, conserve soil moisture, and build soil health. Based on soil loss calculations by UVM Extension, with more than 11,000 acres protected by cover crops Caring Dairy farmers preserved more than 11,000 tons of topsoil and kept ground cover on those acres throughout the year. According to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Vermont farmers planted cover crops on nearly 27,000 acres in 2020, or 28% of their annual cropland acres, and conservation tillage on approximately 14,000 acres, or 15% of annual cropland acres. In comparison, Caring Dairy farmers achieved an 87% cover cropping rate and 75% conservation tillage rate.
In late 2020, soil samples were collected on 194 Farmer Innovator fields and were analyzed under the Cornell University Comprehensive Analysis of Soil Health (CASH) testing regimen. We are utilizing this information along with a short survey on field practices to identify any correlations between soil health indicators and survey scores. The ultimate desired outcome of this analysis is to determine if farm fields can be defined as regenerative based on the cropping practices applied. We anticipate the final analysis will be completed in late 2021.
Strive for Low Carbon Farming
Building on the pioneering work already started to reduce farm GHG emissions, we aim to explore innovations which could enable farms to drawdown carbon out of the atmosphere, sequestering it in the soil through regenerative agricultural practices. We aspire to ultimately catalyze the conversion of dairy farms into net carbon sinks where farms sequester more carbon than they emit, thereby providing a critical service for the planet.
Additionally, in 2020 Ben & Jerry’s launched a new initiative to catalyze the practical testing of regenerative agriculture concepts on operational farms – Prove It projects. By moving the practices from the research plot into the hands of farmers on their diverse farms, Caring Dairy aims to amplify learnings and potentially accelerate the scaling of beneficial practices within the region.
Farmer Innovators, supported by dairy experts and academic oversight, developed their Prove-It project plans focusing on opportunities and challenges regarding soil health, biodiversity, and farm resilience. Project topics included testing new ways to plant multi-species cover crops, trying amendments to reduce fertilizer loss and improve soil health, figuring out how to improve on-farm pollinator habitat, and using drones to measure stored feed for reduced losses. Farmers teamed with specialists for on-the-ground technical assistance and guidance, collaborating with members of the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, Cornell Extension, and local Conservation Districts on multi-species cover cropping, grazing, water quality, and nutrient regimens. Farmers working on biodiversity projects consulted with Audubon Vermont and UVM Gund Institute specialists to study pollinator and bird habitats.
|Summary US Caring Dairy 2020 Goals & Outcomes|
|Goals||Pre-CD 2020 Outcomes||Outcomes|
|Drive Healthy Soil & Clean Water – cover cropping||~71% of participating farm annual acres cover cropped||~87% of participating farm annual acres cover cropped|
|Drive Healthy Soil & Clean Water – conservation tillage (no-till/minimum till)||~65% of participating farm annual acres planted with conservation tillage||~75% of participating farm annual acres planted with conservation tillage|
|Drive Healthy Soil & Clean Water – # Prove-it Projects||No requirement||42 regenerative agriculture-focused Prove It projects completed (2 per Farmer Innovator)|
|Drive Healthy Soil & Clean Water – biodiversity||Active Biodiversity Action Plan on 5% of owned land||Active Biodiversity Action Plan on 10% of owned land (for Farmer Innovators)|
|Advancement of Cow Comfort at All Stages of Life||Caring Dairy internal animal care standard||4 farms audited to GAP 3rd party animal care standard|
|Dignified Livelihoods||Refer to Milk with Dignity section||Refer to Milk with Dignity section|
|Support Farm Economic Prosperity - farm financial support||~$4.1 mil to support adherence to program requirements||~$4.1 mil to support adherence to program requirements that drive Farm Economic Prosperity, Healthy Soil & Clean Water, and creation of environment for comfortable cows|
Through 2020, farmers monitored and evaluated progress, collectively spending thousands of hours on the 42 projects that were implemented. In the fall, farmers took stock of yields and other indicators and, though many project results show promise, these practices needed more than one year of data to evaluate them properly so they will continue into 2021. As findings emerge (see chart), farmers will draw conclusions on the practices they are testing and ‘proving,’ and these learnings will be shared with the broader Caring Dairy community, and beyond, with the aim of scaling practices that advance regenerative agriculture, building healthier and more resilient soils and farms.
Europe Caring Dairy
Established in 2004, our European Caring Dairy program is the longest-running sustainability program for dairy farmers in Europe. Through the years, the program has been oriented around continuous improvement, focusing on workshops for knowledge dissemination and development of action plans for further improvement. Since our European launch, more than 1000 workshops for farmers have been organised. As we continue to evolve Caring Dairy over the next couple of years, we aim to shift to an impact-focused framework in 2022.
Monitoring and benchmarking KPI’s for all aspects of sustainability is essential to support dairy farmers in developing their path to a sustainable dairy farm. All dairy farms need to have a Cow Compass assessment, which is done by a certified veterinarian and includes all housing and animal related KPI’s for monitoring animal health and welfare. The higher the score, the lower the risk for animal health and welfare related issues. In addition, all dairy farms need to have nutrient balances, carbon footprints and an environmental yardstick to calculate the impact of the use of pesticides. Good sustainability performances are rewarded through the system of silver and gold premiums. The below scheme shows the criteria used for the silver and gold reward program.
Differences in country achievements are largely attributable to the intensity of dairy farming (i.e. the number of cows per hectare). Dutch dairy farms are more intensive in their structure; hence it is more challenging for these farms to achieve the Gold status.
|EU Caring Dairy Program Criteria|
|Cows||Soil||Farm & Society|
|2020 European Caring Dairy Participation|
|# Farms Participating||151||23||14|
|% Dairy Farms Grazing||100%||100%||100%|
|% Gold Status Farms||20%||43%||14%|
|% Silver Status Farms||23%||52%||72%|
Excellent life for cows
The Cow Compass is a measurement tool for animal husbandry outcomes used in the Ben & Jerry’s Caring Dairy Program. This tool embodies the “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare principles, and includes a wide range of outcome data, including several related to animal welfare, collected by certified vets. Progress is tracked and shared with the farmers, so they can compare their data with the aggregated means of results from their peers. In addition, improvement plans are developed in cooperation with the certified vets. The results below show the average results collected from 151 farmers in the program in the Netherlands.
Caring Dairy program outcomes show stable performance or, in many cases, improvements across animal welfare indicators.
Over the 4 years that calf mortality has been measured, mortality has dropped by 23% (from 13% to 10% mortality). Between 2015 and 2020, total hours grazed per year has risen by 15%, and longevity has increased by 1%. Antibiotic use has remained stable and at a low rate.
Data are also collected on outcomes related to broader issues, such as milking processes and hygiene. The spider diagram overleaf shows the average 2020 values for the same 151 farms, scored by veterinarians. On the scale of 0-5, these results demonstrate the high level at which the Ben & Jerry’s farmers perform, with scores on 4 of the 5 areas being above 4.0, and scores on the milking process scoring almost at maximum points. These figures will be updated on an annual basis.
|Trends in Calf Mortality and Antibiotic Use|
|Calf mortality (%)||13||12||11||10|
|Antibiotic use (daily dose for animals DDDvet)||2.19||2.13||2.16||2.02||2.04||2.19|
In 2020 we implemented a segregated supply chain for “meadow milk” in our factory in Hellendoorn. This means that all the cream and condensed milk used for our ice-cream mix is coming from dairy farms that graze their dairy cows for at least 120 days and 6 hours per day (certified by 3rd party). In 2022 this will be implemented in our EU factory in Gloucester (UK) as well.
The European Caring Dairy program has a strong emphasis on permanent grasslands and grazing of dairy cows as a way to reduce nutrient losses and to build up carbon in the soil. The Caring Dairy Program in Europe focuses on increasing efficiency and optimising the key values of dairy cows – which is converting non-edible ingredients (such as grass) into dairy products.
|2020 Grazing Outcomes|
|KPI||Caring Dairy Farmers||Reference|
|Environmental yardstick score (use of pesticides)||>95% of the dairy farms did not exceed the advised threshold||No data collected outside Caring Dairy|
|% Grassland of total acreage on dairy farms||>85%||No minimum requirement in Europe|
|% Permanent grassland (>5 years no conversion)||60%||No minimum requirement in Europe|
Continued Program Evolution
Over the next two years, we will establish new performance standards focused specifically on circularity. To help lay the groundwork for the new standard, 2020 efforts focused on building farm-level baseline information. All Caring Dairy farms regularly track 11 indicators including soil health, CO2 reduction, and stimulation of biodiversity and wildlife. In 2020, the farms also completed a carbon footprint for their farm operations and tracked pesticide and ecotoxicity data. Through our animal welfare program, Cow Compass, European farms also tracked antibiotics use and key animal welfare indicators, such as mobility and body condition. Our farms are working toward using 100% renewable energy with support from investments in on-farm digesters.
Participation & Premiums
Ben & Jerry’s paid €1.86 million in European Caring Dairy Farmer Premiums for the 188 farmers in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands who participated in the 2020 program. These farmers provided approximately 22,400 metric tons of dairy cream and milk.
Non-dairy ingredients such as cocoa, nuts, fruits, and sugar, make up 60% of what we use in our recipes. Many of these ingredients, sourced from around the world, are grown in countries in a Global South challenged by rural poverty and increasing vulnerability to climate change. Commodities such as vanilla, sugar, and cocoa leave the hands of the farmers and travel through dynamic global supply chains, arriving at our manufacturing plants refined, extracted, chunked, and swirled. To advance linked prosperity across these complex, global commodities markets, we partner with non-profit organizations who facilitate our engagement with specific cooperatives at origin to develop support programs with and for the farmers themselves.
Through these relationships, we bring energy and resources to help close the gap between living income and current incomes while achieving better community and environmental impact. Since 2013, Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with Fairtrade International to advance our shared vision to support farmer resilience and self-agency through income, productivity, and professional development.
2020 was an extremely difficult year for farmers globally. COVID-19 increased economic vulnerability due to severe drops in market demand, field resource support, and supply chain disruptions. To further support farmers’ resilience, in 2020 Ben & Jerry’s stepped up our commitment in cocoa by paying higher prices to farmers, which would support farmers in earning the equivalent of a living wage. We also continued to pay Fairtrade premiums for sugar, vanilla and almonds, and supported climate resilience-related projects, regenerative agriculture research, and community development investments.
Cocoa Living Income Pricing
In November 2020, Ben & Jerry’s proudly announced our commitment to advance Living Income through adoption of higher pricing for cocoa farmers – the Living Income Reference Price, which goes above Fairtrade pricing. We understand that poverty is at the heart of so many difficult challenges in cocoa communities, from child labor, to deforestation, to lack of farmer succession. To address the vicious poverty cycle, we completed the implementation of our Cocoa Living Income Pricing Plus Model, a three-pronged strategic approach that accelerates dignified livelihoods for farmers by leveraging payment of higher farm-gate prices, increased productivity, and professionalization in business operations. We believe that you need all three legs of the stool to make meaningful and lasting impacts for farmers.
For the past five years, we’ve worked with Fairtrade International on two legs of the stool - productivity and farmer professionalization. This includes investment in agronomic coaches for farmer communities, trainings in agricultural best practices, and productivity support systems. In 2020, our commitment to a living income price (US$2.20/kg) further supported a transition to a more sustainable system and linked prosperity. This means that approximately 5,000 Fairtrade cocoa farmers will together receive an additional estimated $600,000 a year, on top of their Fairtrade premiums.
Fairtrade’s Living Income Reference Price is the price needed for an average farmer household with a viable farm size and an adequate productivity level to make a living income from the sales of their crop.
2020 Key Commodity Impacts
In 2020 we paid an estimated $5,024,347 in Fairtrade premiums, globally, for the Fairtrade-sourced commodities purchased in our value chain:
|Est. 2020 Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade Premium Totals|
|Fair-trade Commodity||North America||Europe||Global|
|Est. Totals >>||$3,262,729||$1,761,618||$5,024,347|
Summary of 2020, Non-Dairy Ingredient Impacts
Cocoa - Cote d’Ivoire
Living Income Reference Price implemented (US$2.20/k)
- 12 full time agronomic coaches hired, trained, and available for farmer communities
- 4,500 farmers trained in agricultural best practices
- 600 farmers invested in productivity packages to improve farm outcomes
- With NGO partners, funded ~100K Euro for new living income program, including education and impact research
- 780 famers developed full, individualized farm development plans
- Supported 81% of Ben & Jerry’s cocoa cooperatives to undertake GPS/polygon mapping to baseline deforestation and land conversion risk. No farms were found to be in protected areas. 15 farms found t within 5 km of protected forests, parks or reserves. All other farms were beyond this 5km perimeter.
- Invested in agroforestry solutions, including the planting of over 40,000 shade trees on cocoa farmland.
- 640 households invested in efficient cookstoves which reduce wood consumption while promoting better air quality
- Fairtrade Africa staff worked with each of the 4 cocoa cooperatives to refresh their child labor policies, including sensitization workshops with community and farming leaders.
- Supplier and industry partners launched the formation of Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) in each of the 4 cocoa cooperatives, focused on child labor monitoring and remediation action plans and targeting high-risk households identified in 2020.
Vanilla - Madagascar
- Early-stage evaluation of farm partners to support a farm investment program with a living income reference price
- Initial research on resilience and regenerative agriculture programs
- Project to facilitate farmer-owned vanilla curing and ownership to point of export
Almonds - Palestine
We continued to purchase almonds from Palestine but due to challenges with resource availability and COVID, decided to pause our farmer engagement projects until 2022.
Sugar - El Salvador
We supported infrastructure projects in El Salvador to strengthen communities’ resilience to climate change – our PDI team worked closely with the El Sunza cooperative.
- Sugarcane replanting of 23 manzanas (approximately 40 acres) was completed & we upgraded the irrigation system
- Co-operative successfully developed internal plans, policies and manuals which included a strategic plan, a youth and gender inclusion policy as well as manuals for internal bylaws and a manual for selection and hiring of personnel, thereby promoting inclusivity
Other ingredients (e.g., cherries, eggs, nuts)
Building new programs for other ingredients is on pause. We’d like to do more to ensure linked prosperity within these commodities but to date have prioritized action on those ingredients with the highest volume and highest risks.
In 2017, we committed to ending our purchase of ingredients, primarily wheat and oat flour, comprised of components chemically dried using glyphosate, by the end of 2020. We did not achieve our goal, despite making some strides over the past 3 years, particularly in North America. We continue to work to identify fully traceable supply chains across our sourcing regions, specifically dedicated to grains grown without the use of glyphosate as a drying agent for the flours they use. Please see our on-line description of these efforts for more details.
Advancing Justice Through Using Our Influence
At Ben & Jerry’s, we have a long history of using our company’s activism to drive changes to big issues that we care deeply about.
1% for Peace. Established a non-profit to support the redirection of 1% of the national defense budget to fund peace-promoting activities and projects.
Artificial Growth Hormone? Not in Our Ice Cream! Came out against Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), based on concern about its adverse economic impact on family farming and public confidence in dairy products.
Support Farm Aid. Ben & Jerry’s pints supported the grassroots efforts of Farm Aid, an organization dedicated to keeping family farmers on their land.
Take a Stand for Children. Joined a campaign with the Children’s Defense Fund to bring children’s basic needs to the top of the Congressional agenda.
Rock the Vote. Supported voter turnout among young people in partnership with Rock the Vote.
Drilling is not the ANsWeR. Protested proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with Greenpeace and the Alaska Wilderness League.
Cool Your Jets. With Native Energy and MyClimate, supported renewable energy projects.
Truth or Clone-sequences. Protested USFDA’s public position that cloned animals are safe for commercial agriculture without the proper oversight and regulation.
Hubby Hubby. Celebrated legalization of same-sex marriage in Vermont and supported marriage equality in the US.
Occupy. Rallied against increasing economic inequality in the U.S.
GMO? Thanks, but NO. Supported mandatory GMO labeling legislation.
Marriage Equality. Australian campaign in partnership with Australians for Marriage Equality. Launched I Dough I Dough flavor.
Fight for the Reef Campaign. Successful campaign in partnership with 350.org to stop dredging of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia as part of a plan to expand the Abbot Point Coal Export Terminal.
EmpowerMint. Campaigned against gutting of the US Voting Rights Act.
Black Lives Matter. Called on our fans to take action to overcome systemic racism and injustice and supported efforts to dismantle racist policies, infrastructure, and practices.
Together for Refugees. Called on the European Union to resettle more vulnerable refugees.
Ban 2 Scoops Campaign. Australia passes marriage equality for LGBTQ – Australian scoop shops halted sales of two scoops of the same flavor until a marriage equality law was passed.
Pride Rainbow. After a rainbow installation in Zbawiciela Square in Warsaw, Poland had been vandalized, Ben & Jerry’s installed a light-and-water hologram rainbow in the same place for Pride month.
Waiting Isn’t Working. Launched in the UK in partnership with a coalition of more than 200 organizations from across civil society calling for the right to work to be reinstated for people seeking asylum.
Poor People’s Campaign. Supported A National Call for Moral Revival, launched in partnership with the Poor People’s Campaign which brought young people into the national movement to address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy.
Yes on 4! Supported Florida’s successful Second Chances Campaign to restore the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people.
Justice Remix’d. Worked in partnership with Color of Change to promote policies to end mass incarceration and address the disproportionate outcomes of our criminal legal system on People of Color.
Close the Workhouse. Supported a resolution to close the outdated prison and shift funds away from the prison system and into the programs and services that promote public health and safety.
Leaving is Living. Spain launched this campaign in partnership with Red Acoge, calling on the Spanish government to overhaul the asylum system.
Exils: et Elles? France launched a campaign to improve the treatment of women in the French migration system.
Leave No One Behind. Germany joined the movement to resettle people stuck at the borders of the EU.
Families Belong Together. The Netherlands worked with UNHCR to call on the Dutch government to reform family reunification.
Criminal Justice Reform. Continued work to reform the criminal legal system, reimagine public safety, and take on the issue of police brutality against Black and Brown people in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Get out the Vote. Focused on activating and engaging young, low-propensity voters of Color, with a specific focus on North Carolina and the Georgia Senate runoff election.
Our Approach to Activism
At Ben & Jerry’s, we combine issue advocacy strategies with traditional marketing techniques, budgets, channels and insights to advance progressive social change. We partner with civil society groups with bold justice agendas to advance campaigns that address root causes and drive systemic changes. This work and associated impacts, by nature, tend to be nonlinear and collaborative, and require longer time horizons for lasting change.
Racial & Social Justice
- Voting Rights
- Criminal Justice Reform
Refugees & Asylum Rights
- Changing the Divisive Narrative
- Policy Change
- Refugee Entrepreneurship & Employment
Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia
Climate / Climate Justice
- Carbon Tax
- Phase Out Fossil Fuels
- Set the standard that defines progressive corporate activism
- Confront the injustices of the past and present so that we may move forward together to advance human rights and dignity, social and economic justice, and restoration of the Earth's natural systems
Our advocacy goals for 2020:
- Policy and societal landscape changes
- Achieve an incremental policy win on criminal justice reform
- In the EU, implement six local activism campaigns on refugee and asylum seeker rights
- Grow our influence
- Increase our US Activist network by 100%
- In the US, deliver 50k voter pledges and 10k voters to the poll
- Drive 250K actions by European activists (through 2022)
Progressing Systemic Change
In the US, we moved toward, but did not quite achieve incremental policy wins on criminal justice. We did, however, contribute to 2020 Congressional and Presidential victories that may yield movement in support of racial justice.
Criminal Justice Reform
Over the past year, our US Activism team contributed to efforts to dismantle institutions that support mass incarceration, an outcome of systemic racism in the US. In 2020, the team continued to support the work of our partner, Close the Workhouse Coalition, in St. Louis. Despite city leaders passing Board Bill 92 last summer to defund the Workhouse jail and re-allocate funds for its operations to community programs, no action was actually taken by the city to close the facility. In the pandemic remote environment, we leveraged technology to drive tweets, emails, and messages of accountability to city leadership, urging them to honor their commitment and close the Workhouse jail.
In addition, because COVID-19 posed an increased risk to vulnerable and incarcerated people, Ben & Jerry’s worked with its NGO partners to mobilize action in support of urging lawmakers in Miami, East Baton Rouge, and St. Louis to pass compassionate release measures. These measures were aimed at reducing populations in jails and prisons that are disproportionately comprised of Black and Brown people because of systemic racism in the criminal legal system. While few of these policy pushes were successful at the beginning of the pandemic, we eventually saw a win in East Baton Rouge where we supported Advancement Project’s campaign for compassionate release.
Get Out the Vote
Elected policy makers hold tremendous influence over actions that shape how we treat the planet and reconcile injustice. In 2020, we helped our partners such as NAACP, Black Women’s Roundtable and Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to mobilize young, low-propensity voters who share our values to get out and vote in the most consequential US election in recent history. Across the country, we used both digital and experiential tactics to get voters to the polls, targeting the issues of public safety and criminal justice reform. In North Carolina, we supported a constellation of groups under the hub organization, Blueprint North Carolina, to hold --safe, nonpartisan voter education and get out the vote events in the run-up to the presidential election.
In 2020, we also partnered with the hip-hop duo Run The Jewels (RTJ) and the cable network Adult Swim to inspire voter registration and election turnout. We were especially focused on increasing voter participation among young, low-propensity voters in North Carolina. We worked with RTJ and Adult Swim to create a live-stream activation that was both culturally relevant and fun. The live stream reached 433K viewers and had 1.27M views across social media.
After the presidential election, the US Activism team shifted its focus to the Georgia runoff election for the state’s US Senate seats. We supported groups such as Black Voters Matter, New Georgia Project and Woke Vote through experiential activations and organic posts on social media to help increase participation at their events. All these groups are led by Black women and helped achieve record breaking voter turnout numbers among young voters and voters of Color in the national and Senate runoff elections.
Setting a New Standard for Corporate Activism on Racial Justice
Our Silence Is Not an Option response to the murder of George Floyd and unbridled white supremacy gained national attention and became a leading example of corporate activism in support of systemic change. However, this statement was not the start nor the pinnacle of our work as agents of change for racial justice.
Refugee and Asylum Rights
Worldwide, there are more than 75 million people who’ve been forcibly displaced from their homes. Governments in Europe have not done enough to give people the safety, security and basic dignity they need. Our activism team is supporting partners working to change existing systems that do not adequately protect rights for refugees and asylum seekers, with particular focus on the United Kingdom (UK), France, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Spain.
Leave No One Behind. Our campaign with SeaWatch, SeaBridge and other grassroots groups. We successfully called on the state governments in Germany to resettle refugees stuck at the borders of the EU in Camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesvos. This campaign mobilized upwards of 6,000 Ben & Jerry’s fans and successfully pressured Berlin, Thuringia and Bremen to resettle refugees from Moria. One state is filing a lawsuit against the national Interior Ministry, which should help change the situation across Germany.
Leaving Is Living. This campaign successfully mobilized nearly 15,000 fans to lobby the Spanish government to adopt asylum system reforms recommended by a United Nations Audit. The Spanish government adopted the recommendations in full. #YoTambiénMeIría.
We successfully partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ask the Dutch government to make the family reunification process fairer, faster and safer. Nearly 10,000 people took the action, and the Dutch government responded by changing practices to speed up reunification.
We joined Refugee Action and 200 others to call for the right to work for people seeking asylum, collecting more than 150,000 signatures and intense social media engagement. This campaign has had a huge impact on the sector and on the overall narrative of asylum in the UK; however, the Home Office has not completed its promised review into the policy and the situation remains unchanged.
We built a campaign with two key grassroots partners to ask France to change the asylum system so that it takes better care of women. This campaign will continue into 2021 but has seen some positive signs from the French Government, including the setting up of an enquiry.
Unfortunately, efforts to launch a campaign in 2020 were hampered by staff capacity issues and problems in country. The team will launch a campaign to improve the treatment of LGBTQ people seeking asylum in 2021.
Campaigns In Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil
While some of our other regional campaign strategies are still evolving, in 2020 we continued to support organizations working to protect and expand LGBTQ+ rights in Brazil and advance climate action in Australia. In Australia our activism team supported 350.org’s campaign, Unfudge Our Future, where we called on our fans to sign a petition in support of the Climate Change Bill that would commit the country to net zero emissions by 2050. The efforts resulted in over 10,000 online messages sent to key government leaders and 2,000 handwritten postcards to Parliament.
We continued to support and deliver the Ice Academy in the UK, France and the Netherlands, a refugee entrepreneurship training program co-developed with our partner, The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN). 59 refugees completed the program in 2020, with two-thirds of participants progressing into running their new business full- or part-time. In a typical year, upwards of 80% of participants are employed or running their business full time; this year that statistic is 62%, in part due to COVID.
Building our Power
As a consumer products company and a member of the Unilever family, we have access to innovative marketing channels and a broad customer base. In 2020, we further honed our use of digital platforms while growing our internal activism team to 11 skilled campaigners across the US, Europe, and Australia. This growth allows us to go deeper and translate Ben & Jerry’s values into successful campaigns.
- 3.3 million page views with an average time on site of 5.14 minutes on the company’s statement in response to the murder of George Floyd
- 66 unique activism campaigns run globally
- 15% of all Ben & Jerry’s advertising dollars went to support activism campaigns globally
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was created in 1985 with an initial gift from Ben of 50,000 shares of Ben & Jerry’s stock. The company’s Board of Directors also committed 7 ½% of the company’s annual pretax profits to philanthropy. Following the acquisition of Ben & Jerry’s by Unilever in 2000, the for-profit Ben & Jerry’s has provided annual funding to the non-profit Ben & Jerry’s Foundation under a formula that allows for the funding to grow as the company’s sales volume grows. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation focuses on social justice, protecting the environment and supporting sustainable food systems. The Foundation is committed to supporting non-violent, thoughtful and strategic approaches that are utilizing grassroots organizing strategies to work for social change. The Foundation’s philanthropy is led by Ben & Jerry’s employees who serve on committees that review grants.
In 2020, the Company contributed a total of $3,864,846 to the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.
The Foundation administers four grant programs serving Vermont and the U.S. It also serves our newly developing UK Fund.
Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Grant Program
The Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Program offers competitive grants to non-profit, grassroots community organizing groups throughout the United States and Vermont. The grants fund organizations working to bring about progressive social change by addressing the underlying conditions of societal and environmental problems through constituent-led organizing and activist strategies. To learn more about grants awarded in 2020, go here.
Vermont Capacity Building Grant Program
The Vermont Capacity Building Grant Program supports Vermont statewide organizations to achieve greater organizational strength and sustainability. Organizations must be aligned with the Foundation’s broad interests in social justice, environmental protection and sustainable food systems. To learn more about grants awarded in 2020, go here.
Vermont Economic Justice Grant Program
The Vermont Economic Justice Grant Program supports Vermont-based organizations helping to alleviate the impacts of poverty and works toward social, environmental and economic justice in the state of Vermont. To learn more about grants awarded in 2020, go here.
Vermont Community Action Team (CAT) Grant Program
CATs fund an array of community programs - social services organizations, cultural, recreational, or arts programs and community celebrations located within the state of Vermont. The CATs pay special attention to underserved populations including seniors, youth and low-income communities. The CATs prioritize support for basic human needs and the needs of underserved areas of the state as well as organizations that are primarily volunteer-led. To learn more about grants awarded in 2020, go here.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation provided funding to 374 organizations in 2020, totaling $3,264,252*. [*This number does not include Foundation funding for the UK Fund, seen below.]
Our Foundation’s UK Fund
In 2016 the US Foundation set aside $200,000 to launch a UK Fund, which retains the US Foundation’s belief in supporting social justice movements and community organizing but focuses entirely on migrant-led groups in the UK.
The UK Foundation funds organizations that are working to improve the systems under which refugees and migrants are supported to settle in the UK. The Foundation targets its funding to groups that work to drive change in the following areas:
- Supporting refugee, asylum and migrant groups to come together to target systemic change – The Foundation recognizes that the voices of those most affected by the issues are best placed to identify and tackle systemic constraints and mobilize to create real and lasting change. It therefore funds projects that put refugee and migrant groups at the heart of their organization.
- Changing perceptions within the public consciousness – The Foundation funds organizations that combat stigma and challenge negative perceptions around the role of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants within society, as well as those that empower local communities to provide a positive and inclusive welcome.
- Building capacity in the sector – The Foundation also funds capacity development and networking to try and drive greater collaboration between organizations in the sector, as well as supporting a greater proportion of leadership from people with lived experience.
Funding provided by the UK Fund went to 7 organizations in 2020, which totaled $134,531.
Special COVID-19 Giving
The unprecedented nature of 2020 and the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had in our home state of Vermont and particularly within our dairy supply chain led us to make a special series of corporate-directed donations to non-profits serving vulnerable Vermonters. We made $100k in donations to groups serving farmworkers in Vermont, many of whom are undocumented migrant workers who were ineligible for Federal COVID relief funds because of their status. This population of workers who are essential to our supply chain and the economy of Vermont, was particularly at risk from COVID because of their close working and living conditions. For workers required to isolate and quarantine, they risked losing two weeks of wages while leaving the farmer without essential labor. Ben & Jerry’s made donations to two organizations supporting the healthcare needs of migrant farmworkers and another to provide direct financial support during the pandemic.
We made additional donations to groups working to meet the immediate needs of the other vulnerable Vermonters.
These donations included $10k to the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont, whose farmer relief fund provided replacement farm workers for farms whose workers were required to quarantine due to COVID. This allowed the farmer to continue to pay their workers while quarantining and still have help on the farm to maintain production. An additional $25k went to the Vermont Community Foundation’s special COVID-19 Response Fund.
In addition, we donated $30k to the BIPOC Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Grant program created by the City of Burlington to help ensure the survival of businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and People of Color through the pandemic. The program gave small grants ranging from $2,000-$7,000 to help 30 business owners pay for things such as rent, payroll, and COVID-related improvements.
While these kinds of corporate-directed donations are unusual because the vast majority of the company’s annual giving typically goes through the Ben & Jerry’s foundation, the unprecedented nature of the need in our community compelled us to increase our giving in 2020.
Support for Scoop Shops
As would be expected, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the Ben & Jerry’s US franchised scoop shop community in 2020. The company responded by creating several workstreams to provide support in a variety of areas, including:
- Researching and providing health and safety requirements, guidance and support to protect both staff and customers, including PPE/sanitation measures and controlled shop closings and re-openings.
- Hosting weekly webinars on mental health and well-being, business-critical information about federal PPP and economic disaster loans, how to maximize delivery platforms, and our newly-created curbside ordering service.
- Waiving royalties (equivalent to $2 million USD) and creating two emergency funds totaling $675,000 USD to get franchisees through the initial phase of the crisis.
- Launching the “Project Joy” program.
In the spring of 2020, we created the Project Joy fund to allow US scoop shops to make ice cream donations to essential workers in their communities. The fund reimbursed shops for up to 20 bulk tubs for these donations. Initially focused on workers at institutions, organizations, and businesses providing front-line care and other essential services to the community, we expanded the program to empower shops to scoop ice cream at racial justice events following the murder of George Floyd. By the end of 2020, 89 shops had scooped 1,485 bulk tubs, the equivalent of over 118,000 servings of ice cream.
Review Report of Independent Accountants
Independent Auditor's Report
For our 2020 report, we engaged Moss Adams LLP, an independent accounting firm, to review specific Quality of Results indicators that Ben & Jerry’s set as priorities for the year. You can download a copy of their letter.