Activists have targeted Trader Joe’s ‘racist’ products and demanded the company drops ‘harmful stereotypes’ in a viral petition.
In the change.org petition called ‘Trader Joe’s: Remove Racist Packaging From Your Products’, the organizers addressed the names used for popular Trader Joe’s products and accused the company of racist branding.
Among the major issues presented in the petition are the company’s names for products deriving from different countries.
“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 reads.
“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 petition also called out the company for taking “pride in the fact that the founder, Joe Coulombe, took inspiration in building the Trader Joe’s brand from a racist book and a controversial theme park attraction,” referring to the book called White Shadows in the South Seas and to the Disneyland Jungle Trip ride in which non-Western people are presented next to wild animals.
With calls for an end of stereotypes in product packaging on the rise, Trader Joe’s has responded by acknowledging the need for change.
“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,” the company’s public relations director, Kenya Friend-Daniel, said in an interview with the San Francisco Gate.
“With this in mind, we made the decision several years ago to use only the Trader Joe’s name on our products moving forward.
“Since then, we have been in the process of updating older labels and replacing any variations with the name Trader Joe’s, and we will continue do so until we complete this important work.”