Walmart apologizes for tasting juntinath ice cream after mixed reactions
Walmart is apologizing for the retailer’s new flavor of branded ice cream called “Junitinth”, which has led the company to the U.S. It is being criticized for trying to get money on holidays to commemorate the end of slavery in India.
In a statement to CBS Moneywatch, Walmart said it was reviewing its product classification “and will remove the appropriate items.” It further said, “Junitin’s holiday is a celebration of freedom and independence. However, some of the items caused concern to some of our customers and we received feedback that we are sincerely sorry.”
Juniteth Flavor – swirled red velvet and cheesecake – erupted on social media, with some Twitter users accusing Walmart of being tone-deaf because the new ice cream flavor is sold by a company founded by a White family and run by a White CEO. Others appealed to consumers to support a black-owned business called Crimalius, which has its own version of red velvet ice cream.
One Twitter user wrote, “This is problematic when White-owned brands and companies consider Junetinth to be another commitment (co-opt) opportunity with a simple understanding of commitment, change or what Junetinth is to the [African-American] community.”
The packaging of Juniteth Ice Cream appealed to consumers to “share and celebrate African-American culture, liberation and lasting hope.”
Walmart’s largest individual shareholders are members of the Walton family, who are descendants of founder Sam Walton, according to Factset.
Junithi became the country’s 12th federal holiday in 2021 after President Joe Biden signed into law a law marking June 19 as a holiday. The holiday dates back to 1865, when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were officially told that the Civil War was over and that they were free. More than two years have passed since President Lincoln signed the Declaration of Liberation, which gave freedom to all slaves in the Union.
The company, Bridge, focused on improving diversification and inclusion in businesses, issuing an open letter to Walmart executives on May 23, urging Walmart to bring the flavor of Great Value brand ice cream to its shelves. Bridges wrote in the letter that Juntin was “the darkest and most destructive period in American history.”
“Will you launch an ice cream called January 27? The day the world remembers the Holocaust. Or April 7, the day that commemorates the genocide in Rwanda. Certainly not,” the letter said.
The letter also pointed out that the ice cream had a “TM” trademark indication next to the word “junitinath” on the label, which Bridge has flagged as problematic.
“Having a TM and claiming ownership of the word ‘junitith’ only aggravates the misunderstanding of claiming something that represents the entire population. Junitinth cannot be just ownership,” the group said.