Paula Deen lost another chunk of her empire on Wednesday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it has ended its relationship with the Southern celebrity chef, part of the continuing fallout in the wake of revelations that she used racial slurs in the past.
However, the Medina-based Sandridge Food Corp. said Wednesday that it will continue to stand behind Deen, believing that her apologies on Wednesday’s broadcast of NBC’s Today show were “heartfelt.”
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., has been carrying a variety of products from grocery items to health and wellness products under Deen’s moniker since 2011.
“We will not place new orders beyond those already committed,” said Dave Tovar, a Walmart spokesman. “We will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements.”
Tovar said the retailer is still working through the details with suppliers.
Sandridge issued a statement Wednesday emphasizing the company’s “unwavering support” for Deen.
“In response to her appearance on the Today show, it is even more evident that Paula Deen embodies a profound commitment to fairness for all,” the statement read.
CEO Mark D. Sandridge stated he was pleased with her interview and heartfelt apologies. “She reaffirmed what we already knew to be true — her genuine equality for everyone,” he stated.
Sandridge will stand behind Deen through the controversy and will forge ahead on projects with the Paula Deen Foods team. Sandridge makes deli salads, soups and other products for grocery stores and food service.
“Paula is a very caring person who has spent the majority of her life helping the less privileged and giving back,” Sandridge said in the statement. “As an organization, we believe she and her team are on the right track and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
Despite Sandridge’s support, Deen’s businesses have suffered major blows this week and last.
In addition to Walmart, Deen’s name is being stripped from four buffet restaurants owned by Caesars. Caesars said Wednesday that its decision to rebrand its restaurants in Joliet, Ill.; Tunica, Miss.; Cherokee, N.C.; and Elizabeth, Ind., was a mutual one with Deen.
Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew the celebrity cook’s contract. And on Monday, Smithfield Foods said it was dropping her as a spokeswoman. Smithfield sold Paula Deen-branded hams in addition to featuring her as a spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, the celebrity chef’s representatives distributed nine letters supporting Deen from other companies that work with her, as she fights to keep her business empire from crumbling.
Target Corp., which carried Paul Deen-branded merchandise, reiterated Wednesday it was “evaluating the situation.”
In Deen’s Today show interview, she dissolved into tears, saying that anyone in the audience who’s never said anything they’ve regretted should pick up a rock and throw it at her head.
The chef, who specializes in Southern comfort food, repeated that she’s not a racist.