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The Boston Globe reports that Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry's "is facing a lawsuit accusing the ice cream maker and its parent company of false advertising by saying the milk and cream in its products comes from 'happy cows' … environmental advocate James Ehlers said that many of the farms that produce the milk and cream are factory-style, mass production dairy operations and only some are part of the company’s “Caring Dairy” program."

Ben & Jerry's "Caring Dairy" program, which is said to create happy cows that presumably produce higher quality milk, are said to embrace programs that include "building soil health through increased cover crops, alternative tilling practices, rotational crops and grazing techniques."

The Globe writes that "the complaint by Ehlers, a former gubernatorial candidate, accuses Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever of violating the Vermont consumer protection act, breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment. It says Unilever has breached the trust of consumers who are at risk of 'real and immediate threat of repeated injury, including purchasing deceptively labeled and packaged products sold at prices above their true market value'."

Ben & Jerry's has not commented on the suit.
KC's View:
I have no idea how many of the cows providing dairy products to Ben & Jerry's actually are happy, nor how many of the dairy farms with which it does business would qualify under these criteria. I'm not even sure it can be proven if these farms actually have happier cows. (Ever seen a cow smile? Just asking.)

But … it should be pretty easy to quantify how many farms qualify as "Caring Dairies." This is about tangibles, not intangibles.

I've always admired Ben & Jerry's, and Unilever's stewardship of the brand and its value proposition. I hope that this isn't a case where it has been cutting corners and making promises to which it is not living up.