The iconic Native American woman has been removed from all butter and margerine packaging for the Minnesota-based company Land O’Lakes.
In a press release, the company announced that it has introduced a new brand of packaging without mentioning the Native American woman’s removal. The new packaging simply features the “Farmer-Owned” Land O’Lakes before an evergreen wilderness.
“The new packaging will show up in a variety of ways, including through a new front-of-package design that features the phrase ‘Farmer-Owned’ above the LAND O LAKES brandmark, ‘Since 1921’ below it and a vibrant illustration of land and lakes,” said the statement. “Some products, including stick butter, will also include photos of real Land O’Lakes farmers and co-op members and copy that reads ‘Since 1921’ and ‘Proud to be Farmer-Owned: As a farmer-owned co-op, we stand together to bring you the very best in dairy.'”
Though the Native American woman on the package has long been denounced as a racist stereotype, Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford did not say the change was made to remedy that situation.
“As Land O’Lakes looks toward our 100th anniversary, we’ve recognized we need packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of our company culture – and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes’ dairy products,” said Ford. “As a farmer-owned co-op, we strongly feel the need to better connect the men and women who grow our food with those who consume it. Our farmer-to-fork structure gives us a unique ability to bridge this divide.”
As noted by Fox News, Land O’Lakes has been undergoing a marketing shift in recent years by featuring its “farmer-owned” story more prominently:
Specific to the Dairy Foods business, the company partnered with country music star Maggie Rose in a remake of the classic song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” The remake, called “SHE-I-O,” featured Land O’Lakes member farms in Rose’s music video. Member farms and farmers have starred in several other videos highlighting the strength of the cooperative model and centered around the Land O’Lakes’ tagline, All Together Better™.
Heather Anfang, Senior Vice President, Land O’Lakes U.S. Dairy Foods, said that consumers respond positively to farmer-centric advertising.
“Research shows that consumers care about farmers and are excited when they learn Land O’Lakes is farmer-owned. We’re eager to share that message with shoppers and extending that farmer-owned story to our packaging is arguably our most direct vehicle to communicate with consumers,” said Anfang.
Speaking to The Grand Forks Tribune, North Dakota state Rep. Ruth Buffalo (D) welcomed the change in packaging, arguing the Native American woman goes “hand-in-hand with human and sex trafficking of our women and girls … by depicting Native women as sex objects.”
Though Land O’Lakes was founded in 1921, the Native American woman was not added until 1928. People on social media have largely celebrated the change.
“Today’s meme is in honor of some much needed good news: She’s gone, Land O’ Lakes finally did the right thing & got rid of their racist logo rendering my & other artist’s protest art either successful or obsolete depending on your view- either way,” said one Twitter user.
“Bravo Land O Lakes! Minnesota brands should not be using racist Indian imagery any more,” said another.