General Mills pulls out of dough manufacturing joint venture in Israel

ISRAEL—General Mills has sold its majority stake in its controversial dough manufacturing business in Israel to local firm Bodan Holdings, its partner in the joint venture.

The subsidiary, which primarily sells breads and dough-based snack products under General Mill’s Pillsbury brand name, will be acquired by Bodan Holdings, which already holds 40% of the joint venture. 

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In a statement, General Mills said its decision to divest its 60% stake in the Israeli firm is centered on “strategic choices about where to prioritize our resources to drive superior returns.”

However, members of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)—the Quaker peace group that launched the “No Dough for the Occupation” campaign to boycott Pillsbury products two years ago—credited years of activism for the move.

The campaign targeted the Minneapolis-based company because since 2002 it has made Pillsbury products in contested land in the West Bank area of Jerusalem, for which it has received criticism from both the Palestinian community and its supporters.

The campaign was also supported by several members of the Pillsbury family. In April 2021, Charlie Pillsbury published a Minneapolis Star Tribune opinion piece declaring that “we cannot support the products bearing our name when its parent company is benefiting from Israel’s war crimes.”

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The sale of the company’s 60% stake “shows that public pressure works even on the largest of corporations,” American Friends Service Committee’s Noam Perry declared in a statement.

General Mills statement avoided mention of such controversy and talked instead about its strategy which it said now involves increasing its focus on “advantaged global platforms”, which include Mexican food, super-premium ice cream and snack bars.

Stressing the divestment was solely a business decision, the company added: “We have made clear the global business strategy that drove this decision. Any claims by others taking credit for this decision are false.”

In comments carried by US and Israel media outlets, a General Mills spokesperson denied the company was pulling out of Israel entirely. Expressing that they company will continue serving its Israeli consumers.

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