Mars To Rename Uncle Ben's as Ben's Original

Sept. 23, 2020
Potentially racist name and image will be replaced; company also creating opportunities.

Mars Food announced today it will change the Uncle Ben's brand to Ben's Original, "signaling the brand's ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world's best rice."

The company also said it's removing the Black chef's image on the package, but didn't say what it would be replaced with. Ben's Original packaging will begin reaching store shelves in 2021.

The 77-year-old brand was caught up in a tide of marketing introspection in June, when a handful of brands and product images were considered potentially racist. PepsiCo/Quaker Foods has committed to replacing its Aunt Jemima branding. B&G Foods' Cream of Wheat is under review.

"Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders from around the world," said Fiona Dawson, Global President of Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers. "We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand."

"The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package," today's company statement said. "It is also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table."

Ben's Original community outreach programs will ensure underserved communities have access to nutritious meals, as well as help culinary entrepreneurs of all colors get educational opportunities so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. "This work will begin in the U.S. where the brand has forged a partnership with National Urban League to support aspiring Black chefs through a scholarship fund, before expanding to support other underserved communities around the world."

In addition, in Greenville, Miss. -- where Uncle Ben's has been produced in the U.S. for more than 40 years -- Mars Food will invest in the local community to address "issues that have plagued this region of the U.S. for generations. This programming will focus on enhancing educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as furthering access to fresh foods." 

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