Since its founding in the 1930s, Goya Foods has endeared itself to Americans for its high-quality, low-cost and authentic Latin American cuisine.
But its reputation took a hit this week when CEO Robert Unanue said the country was “truly blessed” to have a leader like President Donald Trump. His visit to the White House was enough to convince countless longtime consumers to boycott Goya for good.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose family is Puerto Rican, tweeted about searching for alternatives to a signature Goya seasoning when the video surfaced online.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro acknowledged Goya’s “staple” status in Latino households, but he encouraged people to reconsider buying Goya after Unanue’s White House appearance.
Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor who vocally opposes Trump, encouraged her Twitter followers to donate Goya products to food banks and shop instead from Badia and Conchita, both Cuban-owned food brands.
Famed Spanish chef and philanthropist José Andrés stopped short of saying he’d boycott the brand but criticized Trump and his policies on detaining children of undocumented immigrants, among other policies.
“We are blessed? I think Latinos we are being mistreated … ” he tweeted in response to Unanue’s comment.
Much of the conversation has revolved around Goya’s beloved canned frijoles, or beans. Chrissy Teigen, who heads the cooking brand Cravings, tweeted, with an expletive, that she doesn’t “care how good the beans taste” — she’ll buy from other brands.
“I will personally do what I can to financially ensure these farms can carry on without them,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, conservatives like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said they’d buy “massive amounts of Goya beans” to counter the boycott, and a new hashtag emerged: #BuyGoya.
Goya, which company officials say is the largest Hispanic-owned company in the US, was founded by Spanish merchants who emigrated to Puerto Rico from Spain and then moved to Manhattan, where they set up a storefront mostly frequented by local Hispanic families.
Authenticity was key to Goya’s success in the early 20th century, and it’s the reason it’s succeeded since. It stocks the products essential to Latin American cuisine — from black beans and coconut milk to guava paste and yuca — and makes them available in major US supermarkets.
Now, longtime Latino customers are tossing their Goya products. TikTok user Leslie Flores of New Jersey, where Goya is headquartered, filmed herself throwing away beans, tomato sauce and sofrito, a Puerto Rican sauce.
Katherine Cruz of Chicago shot a TikTok about “breaking up” with the brand after more than three decades, then replacing a beloved seasoning with Badia.
Cruz told CNN it’s “disheartening” to learn the company behind products her family’s used since she was born supports the Trump administration.
“My family is from Colombia and mom has always cooked with Goya products. She viewed them as a quality product that looks out for the needs of Latinos,” she said. “It was so sad to tell her what the CEO said and she immediately said we were no longer buying any Goya products. She couldn’t believe it! She made me look it up and show her.”
A Goya spokesman said Unanue visited the White House to announce a donation of some of the company’s products to food banks, and did not comment specifically on the boycott or backlash.