The pressure is growing for the American grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s, to rebrand some of its ethnic food products, including its private-label olive oil.
An online petition has gathered nearly 4,300 signatures demanding the multi-billion dollar chain “remove racist packaging” from some of their products.See Also: Goya CEO Faces Backlash for Praising Trump
“We demand that Trader Joe’s remove racist branding and packaging from its stores,” petition author Briones Bedell wrote. “The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of ‘Joe’ that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”
Among the brands singled out in the complaint was ‘Trader José,’ which includes a garlic-infused organic Spanish extra virgin olive oil, and ‘Trader Giotto,’ which is emblazoned on its Sicilian selezione extra virgin olive oil.
Other ethnic monikers mentioned in the petition were ‘Trader Ming’s,’ which is used for the company’s East Asian food products, ‘Arabian Joe,’ for Middle Eastern foods and ‘Trader Joe San,’ for the company’s Japanese cuisine.
The demand for Trader Joe’s to rebrand the items comes after several prominent food producers have decided to do the same. Earlier this month, Quaker Oats announced it would rebrand its Aunt Jemima syrup and Mars said it would do the same with Uncle Ben’s rice. In June, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream announced that it will change the name of its Eskimo pies.
In response to the petition, Trader Joe’s said they began rebranding their products to say ‘Trader Joe’s’ in 2017 and have made the changes to 90 percent of their offerings. However, the company did not say when it would complete the changes.
“Throughout our history, the name on our packaging has included variations on Trader Joe’s, which were rooted in an appreciation for different cultures and an attempt to have some fun with our product marketing,” the company wrote in a statement on their website.
“Over the years, customers have conveyed confusion about these alternative names… We’ve also received some feedback that questions their appropriateness,” the statement continues. “We reserve the right to market our products as we see fit. We do not make decisions based on petitions. We listen to our customers and crew members.”