Petition update

Trader Joe’s Reverses Commitment to Rebranding Racist Products

Briones Bedell
United States

Jul 29, 2020 — 

Hello everyone. Thank you for your continued support in asking Trader Joe’s to remove racist branding and packaging from their stores.

Trader Joe’s has issued a new statement as of July 24, 2020 that appears to be a reversal of a previous statement issued on July 17, 2020. The latest statement is a departure from the company’s commitment to removing products that they have recognized have not been inclusive or conducive to creating a welcoming, rewarding customer experience. Further, this recent statement adds confusion as to how – and whether – Trader Joe’s will proceed with the repackaging of their ethnic foods.

Excerpts from July 24th Statement:

“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.”

“…those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves.”

Excerpts from July 17th Statement:

“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.”

“…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 do so until we complete this important work.”

Given the contradictory nature of these statements, we ask that Trader Joe’s clarify which ethnically branded products will be modified. Additionally, we ask Trader Joe’s to clarify statements regarding the company’s corporate brand philosophy and founder Joe Coulombe’s inspiration for the company:

“The first Trader Joe’s store opened in 1967 in Pasadena, California. (That store is still there. It's still operating. It still has the same parking lot.) The store had a nautical theme and it was run by people who were described as “traders on the high seas.” At the time, Joe had been reading a book called "White Shadows in the South Seas," and he’d been to the Disneyland Jungle Trip ride, and it all just…coalesced. To this day, Trader Joe’s Crew Members consider themselves “traders on the culinary seas” and are known for their bright, tropical-patterned shirts and for generally being nice, helpful, and well informed.”

What about the White Shadows in the South Seas book and the Disney Jungle Cruise Ride (formerly Disneyland Jungle Trip ride) inspired the Trader Joe’s corporation?

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