Famous rice brand ditches ‘racist’ name

A Uncle Ben's rice is changing its name and logo after 70 years following critcisim for perpetuating racial stereotypes.

The popular rice - which is sold in Australian supermarkets - will now be known as Ben's Original and will ditch the imagery of a black farmer from its packaging.

The US brand, which is owned by Mars Inc, had been labelled "racist" by shoppers in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement that gained momentum following the death of George Floyd in June.

Titles such as uncle and aunt were commonly used in southern US states to refer to black people, instead of the more formal and respectful "Miss" or "Mister".

Mars said it understood the "inequities" of the brand's racial imagery and were "committed to change".


"Over several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders from around the world," said Fiona Dawson, a Mars executive. "We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand and, as we announced in June, we have committed to change."

In June, a statement posted on the brand's Facebook page said the global brand was "listening to the voice of consumers, especially in the Black community" and would be making changes.

It also previously explained that Uncle Ben was a fictional character whose name was first used in 1946 in reference to an African American Texan rice farmer, Frank Brown.


As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to help put an end to racial injustices. One way we can do this is...

Posted by Uncle Ben's U.S.A. on Wednesday, 17 June 2020


The rice products are sold in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets in Australia for around $3 a packet.

On social media, the brand's name change has been met with mixed reviews.

Some people on social media have claimed the outrage hasn't come from the Black community, instead stating it is other people who are "offended on Black people's behalf". While others said it was important to have "representation".





Others applauded the move, stating it was a "step forward".




The new packaging is expected to begin reaching shops in 2021 though a new logo is yet to be unveiled.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au

Originally published as Famous rice brand ditches 'racist' name

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