Another Fake BDS Victory
General Mills has announced it has sold its stake in its Israeli joint venture:
General Mills today announced that it has sold its stake in its joint venture in Israel, which principally markets dough products, to Bodan Holdings, its prior joint venture partner. This divestiture represents another step in General Mills’ Accelerate strategy, which is centered on strategic choices about where to prioritize our resources to drive superior returns. Internationally, the strategy includes efforts to reshape the company’s portfolio for sustainable, profitable growth by increasing its focus on advantaged global platforms, which include Mexican food, super-premium ice cream and snack bars. The divestiture follows our earlier announcement of the proposed sale of our European dough business.
Naturally, the haters are claiming this as a victory, a result of their BDS efforts:
In May 31 General Mills announced that it divested its 60% stake in its Israeli subsidiary. For the last two years the company has been targeted by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) over the fact that some of its Pillsbury products are manufactured in an illegal Israeli settlement.
General Mills’s statement doesn’t reference the BDS campaign and claims that the move simply reflects the company’s “strategic choices about where to prioritize our resources to drive superior returns.” Bodan Holdings, an Israel-based company who previously owned the other 40% of the business, will take over the entire operation. As AFSC points out on Twitter, it remains unclear whether Pillsbury products can still be made in the factory under General Mills’s license agreement.
“General Mills’ divestment shows that public pressure works even on the largest of corporations,” said AFSC’s Noam Perry in a statement. “With this move, General Mills is joining many other American and European companies that have divested from Israel’s illegal occupation, including Microsoft and Unilever just in the last couple of years. We call on all companies to divest from Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine, and from the apartheid system it is part of. We congratulate General Mills on this decision and hope this is the first step in cutting all its ties to Israeli apartheid and toward respecting universal human rights.”
Since 2002, General Mills has run a Pillsbury products in the Atarot Industrial Zone, a settlement that Israel illegally annexed during the 1967 war.
But if this was truly the result of BDS pressure, General Mills would have referenced it opposes Israeli policies or “settlements.” The fact they explained this as part of their overall strategy – including the sale of its European dough business – is a strong indication this had nothing to do with BDS.
But suppose the haters are correct, and this really was the result of their pressure. The fact General Mills won’t mention BDS as a reason for leaving is a huge slap in the face to them. It means they won’t publicly get behind their cause or are even embarrassed to do so.
Update: General Mills has categorically denied the decision was BDS-related:
Days after General Mills announced it had sold its stake in a joint operation in Israel that operated a plant in East Jerusalem, the company emphasized that its decision was unconnected to a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement advocacy campaign that has targeted its operations for several years.
“We have made clear the global business strategy that drove this decision. Any claims by others taking credit for this decision are false,” a new statement obtained by Jewish Insider on Thursday reads. “We continue to sell our products in Israel and look forward to continuing to serve Israeli consumers with our other brands.”