Trader Joe's Now Rejects Criticism of International Food Names

Elisa Lewittes

With racial justice issues coming to the forefront in recent months, Trader Joe’s has received considerable criticism for the names of its internationally themed products that have stereotypical names. Initially, the retailer said that it would be changing its contested names, such as ‘Trader José’ and Trader Ming’s’ for its beer and Chinese-inspired products, respectively. The company admitted that the names, which were supposed to pay homage to ethnic origins, ‘may now have the opposite effect,’ according to a Trader Joe’s press release. However, now the beloved grocery chain is having second thoughts and rejected its reaction to the backlash, according to a report from the New York Times.

“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 in a statement issued on July 24.

More from SheKnows

However, to avoid further criticism, Trader Joe’s explained how they remain open to re-evaluating the matter at a later time. “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.”

The grocer explained their product naming methodology. “Decades ago, our 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,” the announcement said.

Their statement went on to clarify their intent to resonate with their customers’ preferences while remaining true to the brand’s marketing spirit. “A couple of 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,” they continued.

“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.”

Before you go, check out all of the Trader Joe’s products you can now buy at Walmart. 

Launch Gallery: 12 Trader Joe's Products You Can Shop at Walmart

Best of SheKnows

Sign up for SheKnows' Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

More From

  • Distance Learning is Failing Special Needs Kids Like Mine

    Let's get one thing straight, once and for all: Distance learning is crap. Didn't we just spend years being bombarded with warnings about excessive screen time and the physical and mental damage it does? Well, now, thanks to COVID-19 we get to face nationwide school shutdowns and an unknown number of months of distance learning, […]

  • Kelly Ripa's Teen Daughter Lola Reacts to *Those* Nearly-Naked Pics of Dad Mark Consuelos

    Kelly Ripa has always been down to learn from the teens, none more so than her very own teenage daughter Lola Consuelos. Over these months of lockdown, Ripa has confessed to "borrowing" Lola's clothes and makeup and begging her daughter for social media tips, and the 19-year-old has finally relented. In a new mother-daughter video, […]

  • Costco's New Food Court Dog Toys Look Good Enough to Eat

    We're pretty obsessed with the items sold at the Costco food court, so imagine our delight when we discovered that we'd now be able to take home some of them for our beloved dogs. Hot dogs, pizza, even soda! Now, before any animal lovers start panicking, thinking that we're letting our dogs eat human junk […]

  • Meghan Markle's Favorite Flats Brand Dropped Brand New Face Mask Styles

    We were not ready for this latest Meghan-Markle-approved brand to drop the mask of the summer and now you have more options to choose from. Rothy's, the sustainable footwear brand that Markle's been spotted in before, released a two-pack of face masks in June and now they've just dropped a bunch of new styles to […]