Trader Joe's is Renaming International Products After Petition Calls Out Racist Branding
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Trader Joe's responded to an online petition calling for the removal of "racist" packaging from its international foods, saying that it has already been in the process of phasing it out for several years.
The petition, which was started on Change.org by California high school senior Briones Bedell, says that the grocery chain's international food packaging is racist. The packaging in question features names like "Trader Ming's," "Arabian Joe," "Trader José," and more.
"The Trader Joe's branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents "Joe" as the default "normal" and the other characters falling outside of it," the petition reads.
"While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day," Trader Joe's spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel said in a statement responding to the petition.
Friend-Daniel said in the statement that the company had already been in the process of changing its branding for several years to use only the Trader Joe's label.
"At this time, I don't have an exact date, but we expect to have the work completed very soon," Friend-Daniel said.
In the last two months, consumers have pushed several corporations to reexamine branding with racist roots. Most notably, PepsiCo said it would change the Aunt Jemima name and mascot, acknowledging that the much-criticized branding was based on a racial stereotype. And in April, Land O'Lakes changed its packaging to remove its image of a Native American woman.