BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ – Trader Joe’s is coming under fire for some of their product names including Trade Jose’s, Trader Ming’s, Trader Giotto and Arabian Joe’s after an uprising on social media calling those products racist. The company said it will be changing the names, but it’s not in response to the backlash, and says the products are not racist.
“In light of recent feedback and attention we’ve received about our product naming, we have some things we’d like to say to clarify our approach. 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,” the company said. “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, Trader Joe’s said their 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. For example, we named our Mexican beer “Trader José Premium” and a couple guacamole products are called “Avocado’s Number” in a kitschy reference to a mathematical theory. These products have been really popular with our customers, including some budding mathematicians,” the company said. “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.”
Now, those quirky, comedic plays on cultures is being scrutinized by the cancel culture in America.
“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,” the company said. “Trader Joe’s has been a unique, fun and neighborly place to shop for over 50 years. We look forward to taking care of our wonderful customers for many future decades.”