Controversial Australian cheese rebrands to Cheer after 20-year anti-racism campaign

The news follows a wave of product rebrandings in the wake of the BLM movement

An Australian cheese company called "Coon" will rebrand to "Cheer" after an indigenous activist spent two decades fighting for the racist name to be changed.

Saputo Dairy Australia announced the new name on Wednesday, January 13, saying replacement products would hit supermarket shelves in July.

It follows a 20-year campaign by indigenous advocate and author Stephen Hagan to rebrand the product.

Although purportedly a reference to a US cheese factory worker, the former name is also an offensive racial slur.

Hagan had petitioned previous company owners over the name but failed to sway executives until now.

Saputo said the change came after "careful and diligent review to honour the brand-affinity felt by our consumers while aligning with current attitudes and perspectives".

"Treating people with respect and without discrimination is one of our basic principles and it is imperative that we continue to uphold this in everything we do," chief executive Lino Saputo said in a statement.

The announcement comes two months after Nestle said it would rename Australian sweets called Red Skins and Chicos amid a global backlash over racist branding.

In June last year, French cosmetics brand L'Oreal announced it would also remove words like "whitening" from its products, against the backdrop of global anti-racism protests.

Several American groups also said they would change their visual identity following widespread anti-racism protests, including confectioner Mars, which announced plans to develop its famous Uncle Ben's brand, which uses a caricature of an African-American as its logo.

Elsewhere, Quaker Oats promised to withdraw its 130-year-old image of Aunt Jemima from a brand of syrup and pancake mix by the end of 2020, saying it represented a "racial stereotype".