Trader Joe's will be changing the names of some of its international food brands, which have ethnic-sounding names that foster racial stereotypes. The decision comes after a petition that was launched a couple of weeks ago calling for Trader Joe's to change or modify the names of several of its products. Branding the grocer 'racist', more than 1,500 people signed the online petition so far.
The grocery giant said that it is in the process of renaming the brands and will soon complete the work as it doesn't want to hurt the sentiments of millions. Trader Joe's is the latest in a line of companies to rebrand its products following the nationwide protests over racial discrimination sparked by the death of George Floyd.
A Valid Demand
People have been calling Trader Joe's to immediately repackage and rebrand some of its international food products. A petition was launched two weeks ago by a California high school senior on Change.org urging the grocery chain to do away with the brand and logos that are ethnic sounding. As many as 1,700 people have signed the petition so far.
The petition says the grocer "labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of 'Joe' that belie a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes. The petition has been calling for a change in the names of popular brands like Trader Ming's, Trader José, or Trader Giotto's that are used to refer to Chinese, Mexican or Italian food. "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.
Finally a Change
Trader Joe's has been operating in California since 1967. Responding to the petition, the grocery chain said that it is already in the process of phasing out names and the work will soon be complete. "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," Kenya Friend-Daniel, a Trader Joe's spokesperson said in a statement.
Trader Joe's is the latest retailer that has been accused of racism and has been compelled to rename some of its products in the wake of nationwide protests against racism following the killing of George Floyd, an African-American who died in a police chokehold. Since then a number of brands have gone on to rebrand their products that have ethnic-sounding names.
Last month, Quaker Oats announced that it will retire the Aunt Jemima syrup brand, admitting that the smiling face of a Black woman on the product's label is "based on a racial stereotype." Also, Mars last month said that it will modify the logo of its Uncle Ben's rice brand, which features a Black caricature modeled after a 1940s Chicago restaurant waiter, after it drew criticism for being fostering racial stereotyping.