Packaged rice brand Uncle Ben’s is set for a rebrand after anti-racism protests sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The brand’s bosses are hoping to “help put an end to racial injustices” by “evolving” the visual identity of its products, according to the Daily Mail.
It comes as American syrup brand Aunt Jemima also announced it would be changing the brand’s packaging.
Uncle Ben’s products have featured a picture of an elderly African-American man since 1946. It’s said the picture was based on a famous head waiter at a Chicago hotel.
Mars Inc, the company which owns the brand, says the name Uncle Ben refers to a famous rice-grower.
The brand issued a statement on its UK Facebook page confirming that it would be changing the packaging and it would “listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the black community”.
It did not give any details about specific changes or when they would occur.
“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 to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand and visual identity, which we will do.
“We don’t yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities.”
Another American syrup brand, Mrs. Butterworth’s, announced this week that it has started a “complete brand and packaging review”, according to a statement from its parent company Conagra Brands.
And Aunt Jemima, the face of the pancake and syrup brand for more than 131 years, is facing backlash over the long-time use of the character based on a black woman who worked for white families and looked after their children.
Quaker Foods said it would drop the name and logo as its “origins are based on a racial stereotype”.
Vice-president and chief marketing officer Kristin Kroepfl said earlier this week that the initiatives were in place to make progress toward racial equity.
“We also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.”
The company said it had tried updating the brand several times to be more “appropriate and respectful” but has since admitted “those changes are not enough”.
The PR Museum in America explained that the use of the terms “aunt” and “uncle” in this situation harks back to how white southerners referred to older black people or African American slaves instead of courtesy titles like “Miss” or “Mr”.
Quaker, owned by PepsiCo, said its rebranded pancake mix and syrup would be on shelves by the fourth quarter of 2020. The company is set to announce the new name at a later date.