‘Global Business Strategy Drove This Decision’: Food Giant General Mills Denies Pullout From Israeli Operation Was Result of BDS Pressure

‘Global Business Strategy Drove This Decision’: Food Giant General Mills Denies Pullout From Israeli Operation Was Result of BDS Pressure

Shiryn Ghermezian

(Illustrative) An aerial photo of the General Mills corporate headquarters campus in Golden Valley, Minnesota, USA. Photo: Bobak Ha’Eri/Wikimedia Commons.

Food giant General Mills emphasized on Friday that its decision to sell its stake in a joint operation in Israel was unrelated to the anti-Zionist “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign that has been urging the company to end its operations in the Jewish state.

“We have made clear the global business strategy that drove this decision. Any claims by others taking credit for this decision are false,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to sell our products in Israel and look forward to continuing to serve Israeli consumers with our other brands.”

BDS activists have been lobbying General Mills for years to divest from a factory that manufactures products from its subsidiary, Pillsbury, in the Atarot Industrial Zone in the West Bank. BDS supporters claim the Atarot Industrial Zone is an “illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land.”

After General Mills announced on Tuesday that it was selling its stake in its joint venture in Israel to its business partner, the Israeli-owned Bodan Holdings, BDS activists claimed “victory”  calling General Mills’ decision “a decisive step towards ending the company’s complicity in Israeli apartheid and violations of Palestinian human rights.”

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) — a Quaker advocacy group that led the two-year “No Dough for the Occupation” campaign to boycott Pillsbury products — said on Wednesday that “General Mills’ divestment shows that public pressure works even on the largest of corporations. 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.”

General Mills said in its initial announcement that its move to pull out of the joint venture is Israel is part of the company’s new strategy “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.”

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