Researchers do not know the cause. But in tandem was a heightened awareness of how many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees. "One-third of all the foods we eat are pollinated by honeybees," says Diane McIntyre, senior pubic relations manager for Häagen-Dazs. "But over the past three years, more than one in three honeybee colonies has died nationwide, posing a serious risk to our natural food supply."
So, Nestlé's Häagen-Dazs brand took up the cause. "We had never adopted a cause before, but this one seemed so right," McIntyre says. "With 50 percent of the Häagen-Dazs brand's all-natural ice cream flavors dependent on ingredients pollinated by honeybees, the solution to their disappearance was critical for the brand."
In 2008, the Häagen-Dazs brand began funding sustainable pollination and CCD research at University of California at Davis and at Pennsylvania State University. The company also resurrected an old Häagen-Dazs flavor—dating all the way back to founder Reuben Mattus' days—called honey vanilla, now renamed Vanilla Honey Bee.
The brand pledged $250,000 again this year, bringing its total donation for honeybee research to a half a million dollars over two years. Neither the cure nor the cause of CCD has been discovered, but current thinking focuses on mites, poor nutrition, insect diseases and neonicotinoids in pesticides. Research continues.