How Food and Beverage Brands Have Been Responding to Anti-Racism Movement

June 3, 2020
Some food and beverage brands—and their leadership—have taken to social media to discuss what they're doing to support inclusion and combat racism. Includes updated  reports on which brands are re-evaluating their branding and product names. 

Updated June 17:

Some of the largest food and beverage brands in the United States are now telling consumers they're "re-evaluating branding efforts" in the name of inclusion and diversity. 

PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta penned this piece on Fortune: 'Black Lives Matter, to our company and to me.’ What the food and beverage giant will do next.  This is on the heels of PepsiCo subsidiary Quaker Oat's announcement that its Aunt Jemima brand will get a new look and image.

ConAgra Brands released a statement that it, too, would be reviewing its Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging. 

Mars Inc., which owns the Uncle Ben's brand, is “evaluating all possibilities” regarding changes to its Uncle Ben’s rice brand image, according to a Reuters report

B&G Foods, parent company to Cream of Wheat announced it would be “initiating an immediate review” of its packaging, saying "We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism."

In early April, Land O' Lakes announced it was removing the Native American woman that appeared on its branding. 

Originally Reported June 3:

On October 6, 2016, Ben & Jerry's penned a letter to its consumers about the significance of Black Lives Matter. In the letter, the ice cream makers asked that people not to be complicit with systemic and institutionalized racism. On June 2, 2020, the company posted a press release on its website asking its consumers to help in the dismantling of white supremacy. The latter coming a week after the death of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. 

Ben & Jerry's, which is owned by Unilever, stands alongside a growing number of food and beverage companies who are taking a stand against racism. 

On Tuesday, brands and their leaders took to social media to acknowledge racism's impact. Following the lead of the music industry, from which #TheShowMustBePaused was created—by Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang—some food and beverage brands paused their regularly scheduled marketing and instead, took to social media to talk about racism and what they will be doing or no longer tolerating. 

CEOs Speak Out

Bolthouse Farms CEO Jeffery Dunn announced on a LinkedIn Post that the company would be going silent on its social media June 1-7 in order to "allow more room for thoughtful discussions to occur without the noise and distraction from less important topics."

Ramon Laguarta, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at PepsiCo, penned a letter on LinkedIn, assuring readers "discrimination of any kind is not tolerated within PepsiCo. It’s not who we are, and it’s not who we have ever been. We are a company committed to leading with empathy, inclusiveness, and tolerance."

Also on LinkedIn, Miguel Patricio, Chief Executive Officer at The Kraft Heinz Company, provided the content of a company-wide e-mail in his LinkedIn post. The note reminded all employees that "we all have a role to play in fighting injustice and supporting each other," adding that its  "new Value We demand diversity has never felt more important or more urgent."

Jeff Harmening, Chairman and CEO at General Mills, announced on his LinkedIn that he added his name to a statement by the CEOs of several Minnesota companies and organizations, about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, adding that he's "outraged about what happened in our hometown on Monday. George Floyd did not have to die." Cargill's David MacLennan and Land O' Lakes' Beth Ford were also on that list as were Mark Westphal of Michael Foods and Howard Friedman of Post Consumer Brands.

Smaller Brands Making Bigger Impacts

Emmy's Organics, which makes organic snacks, also took to social media to stand in solidarity with those are intolerant of racial injustice. "We want to use our social platform to reiterate that Emmy’s is an anti-racist company and that we want to stand on the right side of history," the post started. "Today through Wednesday we will be donating 100% of the profits from our online store to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. It’s not enough, but it is a start. Please join us and use your voice for good," said part of its social media post on Monday. 

Miyoko's Creamery, out of Sonoma California, which produces vegan dairy products, also stood in solidarity, announcing the company will be donating to organizations that support compassion, including the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.

Alter Eco, a sustainable, Fair Trade chocolate company is donating 20% of sales during the first week of June to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

GT’s Living Foods, which makes handcrafted Kombucha, is donating to the George Floyd Memorial Fund and is asking for others to participate.

Country Archer Jerky Co., a 100% grass-fed jerky and meat snack brand has made a donation to NAACP and is urging their followers to join them in showing support. In addition, the company is donating 100% of its website sales from National Jerky Day (June 12) to the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars Program.

Bubbies Ice Cream, a frozen novelty brand best known for its mochi ice cream has made a donation to the NAACP and paused their social media content to show their support as well as donating to initiatives in its local communities like The Poplo Project in Hawaii, Black Nurses Greater Phoenix and Arizona Community Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative.

SkinnyDipped, a Seattle-based snacking company has committed to donating a portion of sales to Campaign Zero to help end police violence in America.