Unilever Buys Two Famous Cruelty-Free Brands. Will They Remain Cruelty-Free?

Vegans know the drill: When purchasing any product, you carefully investigate the label looking for those trusty words, “Not Tested On Animals.” You learn the brands that are cruelty-free and become loyal customers resting assured that your purchases are aligned with your values. But what happens when a huge conglomerate buys those beloved brands?

Unilever — who owns, among many other brands, the very far-from-cruelty-free Dove and Hellman’s brands — will soon purchase two vegan favorites: the Honest Company and Seventh Generation.

Both brands were started with a commitment to make more natural, environmentally friendly and conscious products. As part of that mission, both brands are cruelty-free and do not test any ingredients on animals. Could a change in ownership guarantee those values remain the same?

Seventh Generation CEO thinks so. In a press release announcing the deal, John Replogle boasted the brand was “proud to join Unilever and its shared vision for purpose-led business on a global scale.”

“Working together we are confident we can have a positive impact on the health of billions of people around the world, truly fulfilling our mission of nurturing the next seven generations while transforming global commerce,” he added.

Unilever did not respond to Care2 when asked about any plans to keep the brand’s cruelty-free status so the second best option is then to look at the company’s track record.

Unilever bought Ben & Jerry’s in 2000 and since then the company remained true to its progressive mission. It even launched a very successful vegan line of ice cream made with almond milk under the giant’s ownership.

But not every business deal ends well for natural and sustainable companies.

Also in 2000, Kellogg Company bought Kashi, the brand of organic cereal that became highly successful with its line of products made of only natural and whole ingredients. Kellogg however, started using artificial ingredients to cut corners but only removed the “all natural” claim from the packaging after a class action lawsuit.

The Kashi case shows that a big buy-out can open the doors wide for greenwashing. It gives a conglomerate a nice sustainability angle to present to its shareholders while not embracing that mission in reality.

When the company embraces that mission, however, everyone wins. In 2006 the Colgate-Palmolive Company bought Tom’s of Maine Inc. and the hygiene products remain all-natural and cruelty-free. A brand that doesn’t test on animals had the opportunity to become bigger and reach a bigger audience while not having to compromise its values.

Let’s hope the same happens with Seventh Generation and the Honest Company.

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

99 comments

Melania Padilla
Melania Pabout a year ago

Such a shame to see a brand like Seventh Generation go in hands of Unilever. Shared.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

I hate seeing all these big companies buying up the smaller ones making even bigger corporations!

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Marie W.
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersenabout a year ago

This is not good news. I really like seventh generation products and have been using them for years.

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Anne H.
Anne Habout a year ago

This seems tricky for the consumer.

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Leo Custer
Leo Cabout a year ago

TYFS

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Greg Rosas
Greg Rosasabout a year ago

The writer of this article neglected to state the real issue here: We vegans do not want to support a company that will profit from the vegan market while the parent company continues its unethical practices.

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Mike H.
Mike Habout a year ago

I don't trust companies that have been cruel to animals. I doubt they will change

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