Trader Joe’s Doesn’t Think Their Ethnic Sounding Labels Are Racist

trader joe's

American chain grocery Trader Joe’s defends its “ethnic-sounding” labels saying the names are a fun way to show appreciation for other cultures and expressed no plans to change them.

Call for change: In July, a petition was launched to push Trader Joe’s to change the packaging for their products.

  • The petition says the labels, which are modifications of “Joe,” “belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”
  • Trader Joe’s released a statement after the petition received thousands of signatures, stating that the company was already in the process of changing some of the labels.
  • “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,” spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said via 6ABC.

Label clarification: Despite all the signatures, Trader Joe’s announced through its website on July 24 that they will continue using the labels on some of its products.

  • “We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions,” the grocery chain said in its statement. “We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”
  • “Decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader José’s, Trader Ming’s, etc,” the company continued. “We thought then—and still do—that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.”
  • The company stated that its products were under review a few years ago and updated based on the Buying Team’s scrutiny.
  • Products with “older names” or ones that “weren’t connecting or selling very well” would be discontinued, while those that sell well and resonate well with their customers will remain on their shelves.
  • According to their customers, many agreed and 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.”

Feature Image via Getty

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