After a Change.org petition earlier this month aimed to eliminate Trader Joe’s “racist” packaging, the company released a statement saying it was working toward doing just that. Now, Trader Joe’s has reversed course and says it will keep its product names such as Trader José’s for Mexican food, Trader Ming’s for Asian food, Trader Giotto’s for Italian food, and Trader Joe San for Japanese foods. In a statement on its website, the grocery store chain said, “We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist,” and added, “We do not make decisions based on petitions.” San Francisco Bay Area high school senior Briones Bedell, who launched the petition, said she and her family frequently shop at Trader Joe’s and had always found the labels to be offensive. Despite the fact that more 5,000 people signed the petition, Bedell caught flak from conservatives for encouraging cancel culture and also from liberals for wasting time on a minor issue. Caught in the crossfire, Trader Joe’s has opted to make no changes to its product packaging.
U.S. sales of milk have been declining for decades as consumers have sought new beverage options such as fruit juice and plant-based soy, almond, oat, and other alternative “milks.” Last November, the country’s largest milk producer, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy protection. Borden Dairy, another major producer, also filed for bankruptcy in January. However, the pandemic has triggered a spike in milk sales, as children eat more at home and adults purchase more milk for home cooking and baking. From January through July 18 this year, U.S. retail sales of milk were up 8.3% to $6.4 billion, according to Nielsen. During the same period last year, milk sales were down 2.3%. To capitalize on recent increases in milk consumption, the popular “Got milk?” ads, which had been retired six years ago, are now back. The original “Got milk?” campaign, created by the ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board, debuted in 1994 and frequently featured celebrities with milk mustaches. The current campaign features curated internet videos of people doing funny things with milk such as opening a gallon with their toes and jumping into a kiddie pool filled with milk and cereal.
Despite the disruptions and extreme challenges faced by restaurants, food producers, distributors, and farmers, there are good things happening in the food world. Civil Eats compiled a list of 20 uplifting stories in which “people across the country are still demonstrating compassion, ingenuity, and solidarity as they work together to solve problems and stand up for what they believe is right,” according to Civil Eats editors. There has been surge in community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions supporting regional farmers; there is more local, fresh milled flour available than ever before; community food co-ops and food banks have reshuffled to become stronger than ever; and there is a marked increased in access to healthy food in so-called “urban food deserts.” There is even a group of young adults flipping an abandoned North Carolina Prison into a sustainable farm.
Bon Appétit magazine’s video series lost three employees of color nearly two months after management publicly pledged to work on dismantling racism within the organization. Priya Krishna, Sohla El-Waylly and Rick Martinez announced last week that they are leaving the Test Kitchen series after weeks of failed contract negotiations. Senior food editor Molly Baz also announced her resignation from the series in an Instagram post saying she would not appear on Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel out of respect for her colleagues. Test Kitchen manager Gaby Melian has also left the series due to unsuccessful negotiations. The departures came soon after Bon Appétit’s parent company, Condé Nast, named Sonia Chopra, the former managing editor at Vox Media’s Eater, as the new executive editor. The popular food magazine’s inequitable treatment of staff was first made public in June when staffers and contributors alleged racial discrimination. Assistant editor El-Waylly was the first staffer to call for the resignation of editor in chief Adam Rapoport, accusing the magazine of only paying White editors for appearing in the popular Test Kitchen videos. Despite her experience as a restaurateur and chef, El-Waylly said hired her for a $50,000 salary to help White editors who had much less experience. When a photo of Rapoport appearing in a racist Halloween costume resurfaced online, the editor in chief resigned his post. He had been Bon Appetit’s editor in chief for 10 years. In an interview with Business Insider, El-Waylly explained that her new contract offer on June 8 included a raise but wasn’t even close to what White co-workers were being paid.
With more Americans at home, cereal sales have shot up 11.8% year over year, according to Nielsen data. Companies like Kellogg’s, General Mills, and PepsiCo say breakfast product sales have soared in recent months. At fast-food and fast casual chains, however, the opposite is true. “There’s not much recovery in the breakfast day part right now. In terms of day part, breakfast has dried up,” said Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary. To capitalize on sales of breakfast foods eaten at home, several competitors have entered the marketplace. Magic Spoon is one such product, a keto-friendly cereal start-up aimed at adults. “We have seen a bigger demand in our cereal,” said Magic Spoon cofounder Gabi Lewis, “from both new customers discovering Magic Spoon for the first time…but also our longtime customers who have been ordering more cereal at a time while at home.” While many industry analysts question the longevity of the sales spike, others aren’t worried. “We’re pretty confident that the at-home consumption is going to remain elevated,” said Kellogg’s CEO Steve Cahillane. “And we’re assuming a deceleration, obviously, from the height of it as people become more mobile and things do return back to normal, but we’re still seeing good overall consumption.”