Trader Joe’s refuses to bend knee to woke petition demanding removal of ‘racist’ branding

'We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist'
Fri Jul 31, 2020 - 1:40 pm EST
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Trader Joe's discount retailer storefront, shopping carts - Saugus, Massachusetts USA QualityHD /

PETITION: Support priest who was suspended for calling out the Black Lives Matter organization! Sign the petition here.

MONROVIA, CA, July 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A popular chain of American supermarkets has resisted “woke” demands to change the names of some of its products that some critics consider “racist.” 

In the wake of a well-publicized petition demanding that Trader Joe’s change some of its product packaging, and reports that the company would do so, last week the company announced that it would not comply. 

“We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist,” Trader Joe’s wrote to its customers

“We do not make decisions based on petitions,” the announcement continued. 

“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.”

The company explained that its decision, decades ago, to use such product names as “Trader Giotto’s” “Trader José’s,” and “Trader Ming’s” was a light-hearted way of showing “appreciation for other cultures.” It also cited the name of its “Avocado’s Number” guacamole as a reference to a mathematical concept.   

Trader Joe’s stated also that they “constantly reevaluate” their decisions for the sake of their business. All their products were reviewed a couple of years ago, they said, and they had eliminated names and products that weren’t doing well. 

“It’s kind of what we do,” said the business.  

More recently, their clientele had assured them that the light-hearted names for their products “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,” Trader Joe’s affirmed. 

The teenage activist who wrote the petition, Briones Bedell, stated in the petition that the food store needed to “remove racist branding and packaging from its stores.”

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. 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.

Renowned human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali praised the business on Twitter yesterday, saying that its announcement was a “silver lining on the horizon.” 

“Looks like Trader Joe's is taking the lead in showing corporations how to stand up to the woke mob,” she remarked.  

Author and mathematician James Lindsay also remarked that the company provided a good example.

“Trader Joe's showing the world how it's done,” he posted to Twitter. 

Steve Skojec, the editor of popular Catholic online magazine OnePeterFive, celebrated the company’s courage. 

“May I have your attention please: Trader Joe’s isn’t as stupid or craven as you were led to believe,” he tweeted.  

Skojec’s remark elicited a testimony that the company is also a good employer. 

“I worked for Trader Joe’s for five years and loved a lot about the job,” wrote Michelle Mitsui of Hobart, Indiana. 

“It was retail, so sometimes it was boring, and sometimes customers were jerks, but they paid us well, and we got health insurance, and they treated us like people. I love Trader Joe’s.”

Petition writer Bedell noted the contrast between Trader Joe’s refusal to change and an earlier admission of error. Bedell cited a statement made on July 17th by a spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s that the company was changing its branding.

San Francisco online newspaper SFGate quotes Kenya Friend-Daniels, Trader Joe’s director of public relations, as saying: 

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. 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 to do so until we complete this important work.

At this time, I don’t have an exact date but we expect to have the work completed very soon. Packaging for a number of the products has already been changed, but there’s a small number of products in which the packaging is still going through the process. 

Bedell seemed confused by the contrast between Trader Joe’s statement and that of its spokeswoman. 

“Given the contradictory nature of these statements, we ask that Trader Joe’s clarify which ethnically branded products will be modified,” she wrote.

The high school senior objects to the very founding of Trader Joe’s by Joe Coloumbe because his vision for the store was inspired by a 1919 travel book and a Disney ride she deems “exoticism at its worst.”

  racism, trader joe's, wokeness

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