Trader Joe's won't change packaging on international food brands, amid petition claiming racism

The popular U.S. grocery store chain says its package on international products riffing on the Trader Joe's name is an 'attempt to have fun with our product marketing'

Updated: July 30, 2020 - 6:27pm

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The popular U.S. grocery chain Trader Joe’s says it won’t retire the packaging name on some of its international products – including one called Trader José's – amid a petition to change the names because of their “racist” connotation.

“A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products,” Trader Joe’s said Friday on its website. “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 a need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”

Trader Joe had suggested earlier this month that it might change the name on some packaging, but apparently held firm amid the poll and a resurgence of so-called “cancel culture,” in which people and entities are being forced to apologize or amend statements or actions deemed racially or culturally insensitive.

The Change.org petition was reportedly started by California high school senior Briones Bedell and as of Thursday had roughly 5,000 signatures.

Among the other Trader Joe’s packaging names cited on the petition site are Trader Giotto’s and Trader Ming’s. 

"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," the company also wrote. 

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