Food & Drink

Ben & Jerry’s Takes the Heath Out of 'Coffee Crunch' in GMO Shakeup


UPDATED |Ben & Jerry’s, known nearly as much for  crunchy politics as for its crunchy ice cream fillings, will temporarily call its Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor “Food Fight Fudge Brownie.” The company says the change—which will appear for a limited time in company-owned shops, but not grocery store pints—reflects its support of a new GMO labeling law in its home state of Vermont, which the food industry is challenging in court. The scoop shops will give a portion of sales of this flavor to the Vermont Food Fight Fund to defend the law.

Ben & Jerry’s has also made quieter changes to remove genetically modified organisms from its ice creams; for example, it cast out the Hershey’s (HSY) toffee bars found since 1986 in its popular Coffee Heath Bar Crunch flavor. The generic replacement rolled out earlier this year calls itself simply Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch—no second-party brand name in the mix. The problem? The Vermont ice cream company is committed to using non-genetically modified ingredients, and Hershey is not.

Coffee Toffee Bar CrunchCourtesy Ben & Jerry'sCoffee Toffee Bar Crunch

Ben & Jerry’s, the maker of munchie-flavored ice creams such as Half Baked and Phish Food, has become an vocal champion of GMO labeling. It’s parent company, Unilever (UL), makes no mention of GMOs in its sustainability goals, saying only that it will comply with labeling rules. Ben & Jerry’s threw its support behind Vermont’s decision last month to become the first state to require foods to be labeled, in this case by July 2016. The Grocery Manufacturers Association—of which Unilever is a member—filed a lawsuit last week challenging the law over free speech and federal findings that GMOs are safe.

“We’re not scientists, and we know there are debates pro and con about GMO usage,” Ben & Jerry’s states on its website. “Regardless of the debate, Ben & Jerry’s believes people should be informed and have the right to decide for themselves.” Still, the ice cream company hasn’t yet completely phased out genetically modified ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s non-GMO flavors include Cookie Dough, Chocolate, Chocolate Therapy, Cherry Garcia, Pistachio, Phish Food, Vanilla, Peanut Butter Cup, Chunky Monkey, New York Super Fudge Chunk, Milk & Cookies, Everything but the, Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz, and Strawberry Cheesecake.

Venessa-wong-190x190
Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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Companies Mentioned

  • HSY
    (Hershey Co/The)
    • $89.1 USD
    • 0.95
    • 1.07%
  • UL
    (Unilever PLC)
    • $43.16 USD
    • -0.07
    • -0.16%
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