Disappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers

Premium maker Haagen-Dazs says vanishing bee colonies in the United States could mean fewer flavors and higher prices.

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By Parija B. Kavilanz, CNNMoney.com senior writer

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Bees are responsible for 40% of Haagen-Dazs' flavors currently sold in the market.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.

At issue are the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continues to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.

That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.

Haagen-Dazs, which is owned by General Mills, said bees are actually responsible for 40% of its 60 flavors - such as strawberry, toasted pecan and banana split.

"These are among consumers' favorite flavors," said Katty Pien, brand director with Haagen-Dazs.

"We use 100% all natural ingredients like strawberries, raspberries and almonds which we get from California. The bee problem could badly hurt supply from the Pacific Northwest," Pien said

Pien said Haagen-Dazs is hoping scientists get a breakthrough in this mystery soon. Otherwise, she said, the company may have to "re-examine the flavors that we currently offers our customers."

"We have to ensure that we have enough supply to maintain our variety," she said.

Additionally, a supply shortage of key ingredients could push up retail prices for its products, she said.

Pien said the company is donating $250,000 to both Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Davis to fund research into the bee colony collapse disorder (CCD).

She said Haagen-Dazs is also rushing to raise consumer awareness about the problem by launching a new flavor this spring called Vanilla Honey Bee.

"We'll use part of the sales from this flavor help the honeybees," she said.

"This is the first time that Haagen-Dazs has adopted a cause like this," said Pien. "We are taking this very, very seriously because it impacts not just our brand but the entire food industry." To top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.