Trader Joe’s has announced plans to change packaging for many items after a petition calling their branding “racist” garnered media attention.
A Change.org petition with less than 3,000 signatures at the time of this writing has been cited in a variety of mainstream publications, prompting the grocery chain to reveal the rebranding effort, which they say has been in the works for some time.
“We demand that Trader Joe’s remove racist branding and packaging from its stores. The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of ‘Joe’ that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes,” the petition states. “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.”
“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 – they are ‘Arabian Joe,’ ‘Trader José,’ and ‘Trader Joe San.'”
The company, which has hundreds of locations nationwide, addressed the ‘concerns’ of those demanding changes, saying they have been in the works for years and will be complete “very soon.”
“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 spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said in a statement.
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