Ben & Jerry's Bets On New Vegas Plant To Lower Carbon Emissions

Company says it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100 tons a year.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Ben & Jerry's is going Vegas - in the name of eco-friendliness.

The premium ice cream maker will add a production line in Henderson, Nev., later this year to better serve western markets and reduce its reliance on cross-country trucking to get ''Cherry Garcia,'' ''Chunky Monkey'' and ''Phish Food'' to faraway consumers, it announced Thursday.

In doing so, Ben & Jerry's will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 100 tons a year, according to CEO Walt Freese.

''We like to think of it as Ben & Jerry's taking its values to Vegas,'' he said.

The plant, an existing ice cream manufacturer owned by Dutch parent company Unilever, will use growth hormone-free milk from northern California dairy cows. Located about 16 miles from Las Vegas, it will be the only Ben & Jerry's plant in the United States - outside of Vermont - manufacturing pints of ice cream for sale in supermarkets, grocery stores and other retailers.

The company won't say how much ice cream the plant will produce, but said it would be a fraction of what is made in Vermont.

Ben & Jerry's cones and ice cream bars are made at a facility in Sykeston, Mo., but the only U.S. manufacturing plants producing the pints remain in Waterbury and St. Albans. The ice cream sold in the company's ''scoop shops'' will continue to be made in Vermont.

The move won't affect the company's 516 employees in Vermont or reduce its reliance on the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, from which it gets the milk used in the making of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream, Freese said.

Nor does it portend any future tie-ins to Las Vegas' more famous offerings.

''I think we'll stick to good company like Phish and avoid showgirls and blackjack dealers,'' he said.

Earlier this month, Ben & Jerry's announced it had named a new ice cream in honor of comedian Stephen Colbert - ''Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream,'' which is vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel.

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