The supercharged political landscape in the United States has grown even more perilous for companies with the 2020 presidential election looming as Goya, a food company with a tremendously loyal following, has discovered.
The company, which makes many products used on Hispanic cuisine, but whose following extends well outside that range, is facing a swift backlash after its chief executive officer praised President Donald Trump at a White House event.
Goya was founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina – both immigrants from Spain. The company calls itself the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States.
Robert Unanue, a grandson of Don Prudencio and Carolina, and now the CEO of Goya, spoke at a Rose Garden event announcing an Hispanic Prosperity Initiative on Thursday.
“We all truly blessed, at the same time, to have have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said standing at a podium beside Trump.
Almost immediately, #BoycottGoya, #GoyaFoods and #Goyaway began trending on social media platforms like Twitter, with scorn coming seemingly from all directions, including some big political names.
That backlash was answered by those who support Trump showing how any brand, whether they sell clothing or, as Goya does, beans, olive oil and adobo, faces potential danger ahead of what may become a highly contentious election.
Those pushing for a boycott of Goya products cited a history of derogatory comments and harsh policies towards Hispanics – most notably, the administration’s policy of separating immigrant families at the US-Mexico border.
Former presidential candidate Julian Castro was among those to take to Twitter, saying Unanue praised someone who villainises Goya’s customer base.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said she would learn to make from scratch some of the Latin cuisine that Goya sells.
But the backlash was broad, with people posting videos of Goya products being dumped out or donated.