Trader Joe’s Has Refused To Change The Name Of Their Products, Saying They \

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Updated 1 minute ago. Posted 1 hour ago

“We thought then – and still do – that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.”

Trader Joe’s has recently come under fire for the product branding of its ethnic foods.

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“Trader Ming’s,” “Arabian Joe,” “Trader José,” “Trader Giotto’s,” and “Trader Joe San” have been used to label the chain’s Chinese, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese cuisine, respectively.

Over 5,000 people have signed a petition – first started in early July by high school student, Briones Bedell – asking Trader Joe’s to “remove racist branding and packaging from its stores,” stating the labels “belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”

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Two weeks ago, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s said in a statement that the company was “in the process of updating older labels and replacing any variations with the name Trader Joe’s,” adding that “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.”

However, in a new statement shared on the grocery’s website, the company has clarified that not only is it not changing labels, but that it doesn’t think they’re racist to begin with.

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“To our valued customers,” they began. “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.”
“We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.”
“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. We thought then – and still do – that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.”

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They added that they “constantly reevaluate,” “review,” and “update” products that don’t connect or sell well:

We constantly reevaluate what we are doing to ensure it makes sense for our business and aligns with customers’ expectations. A couple years ago we asked our Buying Team to review all our products to see if we needed to update any older packages, and also see if the associated brands developed years ago needed to be refreshed. We found that some of the older names or products just weren’t connecting or selling very well; so, they were discontinued. It’s kind of what we do. Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended­ – as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing.

“We continue our ongoing evaluation, and those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves,” they concluded.

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You can read their full statement here.