Long established national cheddar cheese brand Coon will fade out by mid year, replaced by Saputo Australia's newly chosen name, Cheer.
The Coon brand, named after pioneering American dairy processor Edward Coon and made famous by Victorian food manufacturer Fred Walker, has been the focus of mounting pressure for a name change given its perceived racist connotations.
Walker, whose company also developed Vegemite, teamed up with US entrepreneur James Kraft in 1925 to give the Kraft food name, and notably its cheese business, a foothold in Australia.
Saputo said Coon's name change followed a careful and diligent review to "honour the brand-affinity felt by consumers while aligning with current attitudes and perspectives".
Although the name has unfortunately been shared with a North American-originating racial slur, the Coon brand was previously strongly defended and retained by previous owners, Kraft then Dairy Farmers (Lion), which sold it to Saputo's Warrnambool Cheese and Butter in 2015.
Several campaigns to have the 85-year-old brand name removed from retail shelves included a challenge to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 1999, and a 2001 appeal to the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Saputo's Canadian chairman and chief executive officer Lino Saputo said treating people with respect and without discrimination was one of the global dairy company's basic principles.
"It is imperative we continue to uphold this in everything we do," he said.
"Our decision to change the name of Australia's much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging."
The Cheer cheese brand will appear on supermarket shelves nationwide from July.
Saputo Dairy Australia's commercial director Cam Bruce, said the Cheer name was a cheese brand for everyone.
"We trust our valued consumers and those who are new to our products will embrace this new name," he said.
"We want to stay true to the brand values.
"Cheer Cheese fits into every part of your day and brings that extra little bit of happiness - whether it's a sliced snack, a part of your family's dinner time favourite or a melty midnight toastie."
The rebadged cheese brand would continue to be made from the same recipe millions had grown up with.
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"We also remain committed to our Australian farmers who continue to produce the high-quality milk that goes into all of our products, including Cheer Cheese," Mr Bruce said
Saputo, one of the world's 10 largest dairy processors and Australia's biggest, has a diverse portfolio of local cheese brands, including Devondale, Great Ocean Road, Caboolture, Cracker Barrel, King Island Dairy, Mersey Valley, South Cape, and Tasmanian Heritage.
It also produces other milk, cream and cultured dairy products for the domestic and export market.
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