After a petition started in July called on Trader Joe’s to “remove racist branding and packaging from its stores,” the store responded by saying it will not be changing its packaging.
“We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions,” a statement said.
The petition posted on change.org by a high school student claims the names create “a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”
Other Trader Joe’s names cited include Trader Giotto’s and Trader Joe San for Italian and Japanese foods.
More than 5,000 people have signed the petition.
“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.”
But in its recent statement, the grocery chain said it still believes the names, many created decades ago, represent lighthearted efforts at inclusion, adding that its customers say they still like them.
“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,” company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said at the time.
“We thought then — and still do — that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures,” the company added.
According to AWM, the controversy received dozens of comments from concerned people.
“I am a Trader Joe’s customer and have been for several years. I really never paid attention, but if the changes are for the better, I will still remain a customer.”
“I don’t see anything wrong in honoring each of the international foods names. I am Mexican, and I like Trader José name very much for Mexican food.”
“Isn’t Joe’s the standard because that’s the name of the brand? I’ve always interpreted the different names as being inclusive.”
“Completely mad! It’s just gone way too far! What next?”
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