Food giant divests from West Bank
General Mills sold its bread product division. This move was hailed by activists as a victory, Israel however dismisses it as an ill-advised business decision.
General Mills, a company based out of the occupied West Bank announced that they have sold their stake in an Israeli joint venture. The subsidiary, which primarily sells breads and dough-based snack products under GM’s Pillsbury brand name, will be acquired by Bodan Holdings, which already holds 40% of the joint venture.
While GM – and the Israeli media – described the move as part of a wider divestment from European markets motivated solely by financial concerns as part of a strategic effort “to drive superior returns,” the anti-occupation Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has hailed the pullout as a victory for its own activism campaign.
The sale of the company’s 60% stake “It is clear that even the most powerful corporations are subject to public pressure,” Quaker activist group American Friends Service Committee’s Noam Perry declared in a statement on Wednesday.
AFSC’s No Dough for the Occupation campaign has been boycotting Pillsbury products for two years and was endorsed by members of the Pillsbury family themselves in 2021.
The Pillsbury family published an op-ed in a Minneapolis newspaper in April 2021 declaring that “As long as General Mills profiteers from the Palestinian suffering, Pillsbury will continue to be our only source of income.” and demanded that the company that bore the family’s name “Stop doing business in occupied territory.”
Israeli media have dismissed the notion that GM’s departure from the country represents any sort of victory for BDS, pointing out that GM also pulled out of Germany, the UK and Ireland in November, selling off its European dough-based subsidiary to the company Cerelia. Jewish Press reported that GM would sell Pillsbury, along with other Israeli dough assets, to Bodan. However the products will still be made at Atarot Industrial Zone located in occupied East Jerusalem. The outlet stated that any victory for Pillsbury’s family would only be in name.
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General Mills was among seven US-based companies that were included in the UN Human Rights Council’s report published 2021 on illegal Israeli settlement activity.
BDS seeks economic pressure to make Israel leave the West Bank occupations. They boycott companies in these territories and demand that corporations and countries divest themselves of those companies.