Following pleas from customers, grocery retailer Trader Joe’s is working to remove packaging and branding deemed “racist” from their stores. The grocer offers food products inspired by various countries and has previously labeled food items with names like Trader Ming’s, Trader Jose’s and Trader Giotto’s. While the decision to remove the offensive packaging from the stores was made years ago, a Change.org petition written by 17-year-old Brionnes Bedell has fast-tracked this decision after garnering over 3,600 signatures.
“The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of “Joe” that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes,” says Bedell in the petition.
Trader Joe’s removal of the offensive packaging follows the rebrand of several household names, including Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s, in light of the recent protests supporting Black Lives Matter. These rebrands have taken place as a means to abrogate racist stereotypes.
“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,” said Kenya Friend-Daniel, Trader Joe’s national director of public relations, in a statement. “With this in mind, we made the decision several years ago to use only the Trader Joe’s name on our products moving forward.”
As of now, there is no projected date as to when these changes at Trader Joe’s will be complete.
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