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January 14, 2021

Saputo renames racially insensitive Coon cheese brand in Australia

Saputo has changed the name of its racially insensitive Coon brand of cheddar cheese sold in Australia.

By Dean Best

Saputo has changed the name of its Australian cheese brand Coon brand after the Canada-based dairy giant flagged last year it would come up with a new moniker amid greater scrutiny of FMCG branding in the wake of the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In July, Saputo noted Coon’s various brand owners been under pressure for decades to drop the racially insensitive brand, which the company acquired in 2015. The pressure mounted as the calls from Black Lives Matter for greater racial equality gained more support last summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a US citizen, while under arrest by police.

In a statement issued this week, Saputo said the change follows a “careful and diligent review to honour the brand-affinity felt by our consumers while aligning with current attitudes and perspectives”.  

The Cheer brand will be launched on the Australian market in July.

The Coon brand dates back to 1935 and was named after the company’s founder Edward William Coon. It came under Saputo’s control in 2015 when it acquired Lion’s “everyday” cheese business.

A number of other major food manufacturers such as Mars and PepsiCo have ditched product names deemed to be racially insensitive in recent months.

Group chairman and CEO Lino Saputo Jr. said: “Treating people with respect and without discrimination is one of our basic principles and it is imperative that we continue to uphold this in everything we do. Our decision to change the name of Australia’s much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

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