SAN FRANCISCO — Responding to calls for Trader Joe’s to stop labeling its international food products with ethnic-sounding names, the grocery store chain said it has been in a yearslong process of repackaging those products and will soon complete the work.
In the latest call to rename brands and logos, nearly 1,000 people have signed an online petition urging the retail giant to rename products labeled “Trader Ming’s,” “Trader José,” or “Trader Giotto’s” to refer to Chinese, Mexican or Italian food, respectively, SFGate reported.
The petition said the labels perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
“The Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it — they are ‘Arabian Joe,’ ‘Trader José,’ and ‘Trader Joe San,’ the petition states.
The company said in a statement that it decided several years ago to use only the Trader Joe’s name on its products and has been in the process of updating the ethnic-sounding 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,” company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said.
Packaging for a number of the products has already been changed, and the company expects to complete the process “very soon,” she said.