The popular ice cream company first dipped into the fair trade movement back in 2005, when it started using fair trade coffee, chocolate and vanilla
for some of its flavors — ensuring that the producers of those ingredients got a fairer share of the profits from the ice cream. At that time, Ben & Jerry’s foray into fair trade was met with both joy from eco-ethical ice cream lovers — and skepticism from fair trade activists. Why the negativity? Ben & Jerry’s kept on using conventional sugar instead of fair trade certified sugar in the ice creams awarded the fair trade logo — even though a lot more sugar went into the ice creams than the fair trade certified cocoa, coffee or vanilla.
Apparently, Ben & Jerry listened to those concerns and is now ready to make a complete switch. Not only is Ben & Jerry’s going to use fair trade sugar in all its ice creams — making pretty much every single flavor eligible for fair trade certification — the company is going to switch away from conventional products for all ingredients available with fair trade certification.
That means 11 ingredients in Ben & Jerry’s products — from sugar to coffee to banana to some nuts — will be fair trade certified. The switch to fair trade will be complete by the end of 2013.
As for the other major ingredients: Ben & Jerry’s shuns milk from cows shot up with rBGH, and plans to make a complete switch to certified humane cage-free farms eggs by the end of 2010 — both great eco-strides.
I'm still a bit sad, though, that Ben & Jerry has discontinued the four organic flavors it debuted in 2008. According to a customer service representative, the flavors didn’t sell — but I’m holding out hope that Ben and Jerry’s will decide to give organic flavors a try again, as the green market keeps growing.