Trader Joe’s refuses to change packaging critics say is “racist”

by Peter Heck · Jul 31st, 2020 8:42 am

Last Updated Jul 31st, 2020 at 5:54 pm

Bucking the trend of companies capitulating to social media protests and online petitions, grocery store chain Trader Joe's has rejected demands that it change the name on some of its products that critics have called "racist."

On the announcement page of its website, Trader Joe's offered a clarification about the controversy as well as an explanation about the way it names products.

"A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to 'remove racist packaging from [our] products.' Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action," the company wrote. "We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions."

Some of the items that were targeted by activists were products whose name were tied to various ethnicities like "Trader Giotto's," "Trader José's," and "Trader Ming's."

"For example, we named our Mexican beer 'Trader José Premium' and a couple guacamole products are called "Avocado's Number" in a kitschy reference to a mathematical theory," the company continued. "These products have been really popular with our customers, including some budding mathematicians."

The company made clear in their statement that it still believes those products are "fun and show appreciation for other cultures."

When it comes to changing names or discontinuing products it offers, Trader Joe's said that would happen if it conducted internal reviews and noticed that certain ones were not connecting with customers. That currently is not the case with any of the targeted products.

To the contrary, Trader Joe's says that since the online petitions began, numerous customers have reaffirmed "that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended­ — as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing."

Any product that connects with consumers and sells well, the company said, "will remain on our shelves."


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