More than 2,500 people have signed a petition calling on Trader Joe’s to change the names of its international food brands, including “Trader Giotto’s” and “Trader José,” but the grocery store chain says it was already working on it.

The petition called out the branding, which replaces the “Joe” in its title for more ethnic-sounding names,” as “racist” and said it “that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates 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 argues.

But the California-based chain says it was already working on rebranding efforts even before the petition.

“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,” Kenya Friend-Daniel, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, said in a statement to SF Gate.

“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.”

Friend-Daniel said the switch will be completed “very soon.”

The Trader Joe’s announcement comes as several other brands, including Uncle Ben’s, Land O’ Lakes and Aunt Jemima, have changed logos amid a renewed focus on cultural sensitivity.


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