Coon cheese will soon be renamed after Canadian parent company Saputo Dairy Australia announced the brand did not align with current attitudes and perspectives.
Named after its founder Edward William Coon, the brand has long drawn criticism for its racist connotations, with the word a known racial slur.
Saputo has said they will ‘retire’ the brand name and are working to develop a replacement which honours the ‘brand-affinity’ of consumers and which aligned with current community expectations.
They are among a number of brands to change their names in the wake of increased awareness of racial equalities amid the Black Lives Matter movement. Nestle also recently announced they were changing the names of their Red Skins and Chicos lollies in a move towards becoming a more culturally sensitive brand.
In a statement on the decision, Saputo said one of their ‘basic principles’ was to treat people with respect and without discrimination and the decision was made to ensure they were upholding this.
“As such, we performed a careful and diligent review of a sensitive situation involving one of our brands. We wanted to ensure we listened to all the concerns surrounding the COON® brand name, while also considering comments from consumers who cherish the brand and recognise the origin of its founder Edward William Coon, which they feel connected to,” Saputo said.
“After thorough consideration, Saputo has decided to retire the COON® brand name. We are working to develop a new brand name that will honour the brand-affinity felt by our valued consumers while aligning with current attitudes and perspectives.”
“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.”
The decision follows a letter of complaint to Saputo by Indigenous activist, academic and former diplomat Dr Stephen Hagan who has been campaigning for more two decades to have the name changed, including issuing an unsuccessful complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1999.