SodaStream, the Israeli maker of home carbonation systems long dogged by the boycott movement, confirmed on Wednesday that it has changed its product labeling in in the United States to say “Made in the West Bank.”
“By request of consumers and retail partners, SodaStream recently began including the location of production, also on U.S. packaging,” the company said in response to a query by Haaretz. It added that the labeling change would last only a few months until it moves production inside Israel.
SodaStream’s main plant is in the West Bank industrial zone Mishor Adumim, but the company said last October it would transfer production later this year to a new facility in Lehavim, an industrial zone near the Negev city of Be’er Sheva.
SodaStream has been a prime target of the global boycott, sanction, and divestment, or BDS, activists as a rare instance of an Israeli with a high-profile consumer product manufactured in the West Bank. Its ads featuring actress Scarlett Johansson broadcast during the 2014 Super Bowl brought it added attention.
However, when SodaStream announced it was moving production to Lehavim, it denied there was an connection to BDS pressure.
“We have always been proud and transparent about our Mishor facility, however, irrespective of the political debate and due purely to economic considerations, we will complete the transition from this facility to our flagship site in Lehavim, Israel, during the next few months,” the company reiterated Wednesday.
The SodaStream statement came days after the International Middle East Media Center, a pro-Palestinian website, said the company acted after local activists in Oregon filed a complaint with the state Department of Justice. The complaint asserted that the company was violating the state's Fair Trade Practices Act, a consumer-protection law, by labeling its products as “Made in Israel.”
The complaint was forwarded to SodaStream, which replied by saying that the labels would be changed to "Made in the West Bank" immediately, according to the website. SodaStream’s statement didn’t make any reference to the Oregon case.
“This appears to be the first time that an Israeli settlement manufacturer has corrected its labels for products sold in the United States,” said activist Rod Such of the PDX Boycott Occupation Soda! Coalition based in Portland, Oregon.
The coalition has also filed an official complaint with the U.S. Customs and Border Control Agency, on the grounds that the false labeling also violates U.S. Customs regulations. That complaint, filed last November is now under investigation.
SodaStream sales and profits have plummeted in recent quarters, which the company and analysts attribute to American consumers' growing preference for healthier drinks, such as juices and teas, not to the boycott. The company has been acting to reposition its products to reflect changing tastes.
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