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Unilever still selling ice cream in Russia

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Unilever said it would continue to supply 'everyday essential food and hygiene products' to consumers - Reuters
Unilever said it would continue to supply 'everyday essential food and hygiene products' to consumers - Reuters

Unilever has admitted it is still selling ice cream brands including Cornetto and Magnum in Russia despite pledging to only supply “everyday essential food” in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The British multinational said it was still selling most of its existing ranges in the country, which include mostly personal hygiene items, but also some ice cream brands.

The FTSE 100 company, which owns Marmite and Dove soap, condemned the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine in March, branding it “a brutal and senseless act by the Russian state”.

It said it had suspended all imports and exports of our products into and out of Russia but would continue to supply its “everyday essential food and hygiene products” made in the country for its consumers.

“We will keep this under close review,” it said.

On Thursday, Alan Jope, the chief executive, called the economic contribution of Russia to Unilever “immaterial”.

He said: “It’s very small. But the responsibility that we feel towards the safety and wellbeing, and livelihoods of Unilever’s team on the ground, is as high as we would feel for any other employee in the company.”

Unilever sells the Cornetto, Magnum and Carte D’Or ice cream brands in Russia, as well as local brand Inmarko, according to its website. It has an ice cream factory in Omsk.

Ben & Jerry’s, which is also owned by Unilever, pulled out of Russia in the late 1990s after only five years’ selling in the country owing to legal and tax challenges.

The ice cream brand is known for taking strong political stands. Last summer, it sparked a row with Israel by saying it would stop selling ice cream in occupied Palestinian territories, as it was “inconsistent with our values for our product to be present within an internationally recognised illegal occupation”.

In February, Ben & Jerry’s criticised Joe Biden’s response to the Ukraine war.

It said in a Twitter post: “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. We call on President Biden to de-escalate tensions and work for peace rather than prepare for war.

“Sending thousands more US troops to Europe in response to Russia’s threats against Ukraine only fans the flame of war.”

Businesses are facing increased scrutiny over their decision to maintain operations in the country, with Glaxo
SmithKline earlier this week defending its decision to continue selling in Russia.

It has stopped selling mouthwash, but is still selling toothpaste and dental adhesives there.

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