Last month, a Change.org petition was created to demand Trader Joe’s “racist” branding and packaging be removed from their shelves.

The brands in question in the petition were:

  • “Trader Ming’s” for Chinese-style food
  • “Trader José” for Mexican-style food
  • “Trader Giotto’s” for Italian-style food
  • “Trader Joe San” for Japanese-style food
  • “Arabian Joe” for Middle Eastern-style food

Trader Joe’s issued a statement saying that the product names were an attempt at inclusivity, and through the petition, it was pointed out as racist, they would revisit their branding.

They noted that brands like “Arabian Joe’s”, “Armenian Joe’s”, have been discontinued.

The company issued a second statement clarifying that they disagree that any of their labels are racist.

They further explained that decisions to phase out products mentioned in the first statement were because of product availability.

According to Fred Cook, chairperson of the PR Firm, Golin, the second statement was an attempt to address any misunderstandings from the first one.

With that move, the company reiterates, the labels were not racist, and the removal of labels deemed as racist was not an admission of guilt, rather, a business decision because the products did not sell well.   

Heightened Sensitivity In The #BLM Era

There is a heightened sensitivity right now around all of these issues. Every company … needs to be very careful about the kinds of things they’re saying and the kinds of things they’re doing.” said Cook. 

In the era of the Black Lives Matter #BLM movement, identifying and calling out racism is important more than ever.

The petition’s comments section had mixed opinions on the accusation that the labels were racist.

Some believed that it was, and others were just used to it and did not see it.

One comment on the other hand said that the petition is a “joke”.

The person self-identified as a Latino said that “this snowflake”, referring to the petitioner, does not speak for me.

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