Ben & Jerry's new CEO
Freese to assume top leadership job at Vermont ice cream company.
Ben & Jerry’s today announced the appointment of Walt Freese, Chief Marketing Officer for the Vermont-based ice cream manufacturer for the past 3 ½ years, to Chief Euphoria Officer. He succeeds Yves Couette, who will become Senior Vice President for Unilever’s Beverages Category. Both moves are effective December 1st.
Freese, who joined Ben & Jerry’s in 2001 as Chief Marketing Officer, will have overall responsibility for managing Ben & Jerry’s Marketing, International, Retail Operations, and Human Resources. He will report to Eric Walsh, Chairman of Unilever’s North American Ice Cream Group.
"We are very fortunate to have someone with Walt’s broad marketing and business experience to take over the management of Ben & Jerry’s. He has built a strong marketing organization and has been an integral part of the leadership team at Ben & Jerry's. We look forward to Walt and the MOM (Managers of Mission) building on everything that’s been achieved over the last four years," Walsh added.
Prior to joining Ben & Jerry’s. Freese was General Manager of Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colorado where he increased revenue 57% over three years. He also worked in senior marketing roles with Kraft Foods and Nestle. Freese and his family reside in South Burlington.
Couette, as SVP of Unilever’s Beverages Category, will be based in Paris. A 28-year Unilever veteran, Couette was appointed CEO of Ben & Jerry's in 2001 following the acquisition of the brand. Prior to joining Ben & Jerry’s, Couette was Managing Director of Unilever’s ice cream business in Mexico.
"Over the past four years, Yves has successfully guided the Ben & Jerry’s team through a number of critical changes which have led to stronger business and one well positioned for future growth," said Eric Walsh in a company-wide announcement. "His passion for the brand will long be appreciated."
Since 2001, when Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s has continued its commitment to social mission and championed environmental sustainability, values-led sourcing initiatives and corporate philanthropy. The brand is targeted to give a percentage of the company's pre tax income to the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which amounted to $1.4 million in fiscal year 2003. Ben & Jerry’s has consistently been recognized as a leader in corporate social responsibility, ranking in the past two years the top two of companies in an independent survey of American’s attitudes and perceptions of corporate citizenship.
About Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry’s produces a wide variety of super premium ice cream and ice cream novelties, using Vermont dairy products and high quality, all natural ingredients. The company is committed to using milk and cream that have not been treated with the synthetic hormone, rBGH. Ben and Jerry’s products are distributed nationwide and in selected foreign countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchise Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops, restaurants and other venues.
Ben & Jerry’s, a wholly-owned autonomous subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part mission statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community. Ben & Jerry’s contributes a minimum of $1.1 million annually through corporate philanthropy that is primarily employee led. Contributions made via the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 2001 totaled over $1.4 million.
Additionally, the company makes significant product donations to community groups and nonprofits both in Vermont and across the nation. The purpose of Ben & Jerry’s philanthropy is to support the founding values of the company: economic and social justice, environmental restoration and peace through understanding, and to support our Vermont communities.
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