Food Trader Joe's Just Backtracked on This Big Brand Name Change
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Recently, Trader Joe's announced it would consider changing theafter a petition calling attention to the cultural stereotypes they incite gained major traction. Now, the appears to be walking back on that action.
The petition, titled "Trader Joe's: Remove Racist Packaging From Your Products," was started onby 17-year-old high school student, Briones Bedell, in California. "The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of 'Joe' that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes," Bedell wrote. "For example, 'Trader Ming's' is used to brand the chain's Chinese food, 'Arabian Joe' brands Middle Eastern foods, 'Trader José' brands Mexican foods, 'Trader Giotto's' is for Italian food, and 'Trader Joe San' brands their Japanese cuisine."
Trader Joe's to Change the Names of These Popular Items
Trader Joe's is making some changes amid criticism that their in-house brand names for ethnic cuisines are racially insensitive.The change comes after more than 1,400 people signed a Change.org petition launched by 17-year-old high school student Briones Bedell in California, who urged that Trader Joe's "remove racist branding and packaging from its stores.
The petition (which, at the moment, over 5,700 people have signed) launched shortly after the parent companies of big-name brands such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's announced they were undergoing review for changing their brand names that were built on. (Related: )
On July 17, Kenya Friend-Daniel, Trader Joe's national director of public relations, was quoted bysaying, "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." The statement also included Friend-Daniel saying, "With this in mind, we made the decision several years ago to use only the Trader Joe's name on our products moving forward."
Trader Joe’s Is Eliminating Racist Labels on Their Foods
Trader Ming’s and others will soon be no more.Now, after a Change.org petition has gained steam, Trader Joe’s says it’s in the process of removing the sub-brand names associated with its various ethnic cuisines. Those include Trader Ming’s for Chinese foods, Trader Jose’s for Mexican eats, and Trader Giotto’s for Italian fare. Started by 17-year-old Briones Bedell, the petition, which the LA Times says has garnered more than 2,000 signatures as of July 20, says these names represent “a narrative of exoticicism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.
While it seemed like the beloved grocery chain was on board to make those changes, on July 24, the company published a statement on its website undersaying that it will not be making any of the changes that were said to be in the works just a few days prior. The company also admitted they don't think their current branding could be perceived as racist. The statement reads:
"A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to 'remove racist packaging from [our] products.' The following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.
We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.
Decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto's, Trader José's, Trader Ming's, etc. We thought then—and still do—that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures…
Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended—as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing. We continue our ongoing evaluation, and those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves."
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