One of the world's largest food manufacturers. Until 2022, it produced Pillsbury products in a factory located in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.
General Mills is a multinational food conglomerate headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It acquired the Pillsbury Company in 2001 and has owned the Pillsbury brand ever since.
Between 2002-2022, General Mills' Israel has manufactured frozen baked goods under the Pillsbury brand in the Atarot Industrial Zone, an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory. In 2020, the United Nations included General Mills in its database of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
This sparked a campaign by U.S. activist groups calling to boycott Pillsbury products, including members of the Pillsbury family. General Mills acknowledged that it has a factory at Atarot and that its employees are regularly stationed there to monitor product quality. However, it responded poorly to questions posed by its shareholders about the issue.
In May 2022, General Mills announced that it had sold off its stake in General Mills Israel and confirmed that it would no longer produce any products in the Atarot factory, nor would it continue selling Pillsbury products in Israel. As part of that change, General Mills Israel Ltd changed its name to Rustic Bakery Ltd and took down its website. As of May 2023, the factory is still active in the same location on stolen Palestinian land, but it is no longer associated with General Mills or the Pillsbury brand.
The factory was built on land that belongs to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. It is owned by Israeli company Shalgal (Food) Ltd. However, it was used exclusively to make Pillsbury products for the Israeli licensee of the Pillsbury brand, General Mills Israel, between 2002-2022.
In 2002, when it was converted to making Pillsbury products, the factory was expanded using $2 million of Israeli government money. Shalgal has received additional grants from the Israeli government at least twice, in 2010 and 2019, to increase the number of workers at the factory. The Israeli government allows Shalgal to employ 128 Palestinian workers from the West Bank as of 2019. The factory employs a similar number of Israeli Jews.
The Atarot Industrial Zone is located north of Jerusalem and is part of the area of the West Bank known as “East Jerusalem,” which Israel illegally annexed in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The Pillsbury factory was built on land that belongs to Beit Hanina, a Palestinian town that Israel made into a neighborhood of Jerusalem and later split into two by the separation wall. Israel confiscated this land in 1970, as part of the largest confiscation of Palestinian land in the Jerusalem environs.
- In March 2022, the Alma Mater Society, a student union at the university of British Columbia, passed a motion demanding that the university divest from nine companies complicit in human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation of Palestine: Motorola Solutions Inc, General Mills Inc, Partner Communications LTD, Bezeq the Israeli Telecommunications Corporation, Cellcom Israel Ltd, Bank Hapoalim BM, Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Lockheed Martin.
- In November 2020, San Francsico State University's student government passed a resolution calling for the university to pull out of investments in companies that do business in Israeli settlements, referencing the 112 companies linked to the illegal settlements in Palestine as listed by the United Nations.
- In October 2020, Fresno State University’s student government voted in favor of a divestment resolution calling for the university to divest from the 112 companies linked to the illegal settlements in Palestine, as listed by the United Nations.