Saputo will drop the “Coon” name from its popular cheese products in Australia, the latest company to change branding amid a corporate reckoning on systemic racism.
The Canadian food giant is working to develop a new brand name “that will honor the brand affinity felt by our valued consumers while aligning with current attitudes and perspectives,” it said in a statement posted online.
The company says its cheese brand was named after founder Edward William Coon. But the word ‘coon’ is more popularly recognized as a racist term with its roots in American slavery, an abbreviation of the word ‘raccoon’ used to caricature some black people, according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan.
Saputo’s move follows mounting pressure on corporations to remove racist branding as protests flared in the U.S. and elsewhere against George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
A slew of companies and groups have changed their problematic brand names, including the Washington NFL team, which dropped ‘Redskins’, and country music group Lady Antebellum, which changed its name to Lady A.
Earlier this month, Unilever removed the word “fair” from the name of a skin-whitening cream it has sold in India for decades. PepsiCo Inc.’s Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s Darlie toothpaste and and Mars Inc.’s Uncle Ben’s rice brand have all pledged to ditch the racist tropes in their branding.
“We believe we all share in the responsibility to eliminate racism in all its forms and we feel this is an important step we must take to uphold this commitment,” Saputo said.
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