This week, more than 15,000 stores pledged they would no longer carry coconut milk brands Aroy-D or Chaokoh after an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia exposed that the brands’ suppliers cruelly force monkeys to pick coconuts. Retail company Walgreens Boots Alliance will no longer sell these products in 9,277 Walgreens and 250 Duane Reade stores in the United States and its 2,758 Boots stores in the United Kingdom and Thailand. Cost Plus World Market will ban coconut products from Chaokoh from its 276 stores nationwide, as well as from its online platform. Retail group Ahold Delhaize will no longer sell coconut products sourced from suppliers that use monkey labor at its 2,000 stores and distribution centers in the US (including Giant Food, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, and Hannaford), as well as its 889 Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands. The majority of the stores pledged to no longer buy any products made with coconuts from Thailand, where PETA said the issue of monkey labor is prevalent.
PETA Asia investigators visited four “monkey schools,” eight farms, and one coconut-picking competition to discover that chained monkeys—who were likely illegally captured as babies—were forced to climb trees and pick coconuts for worldwide distribution. When the animals were not picking coconuts, they were chained to old tires or kept in tiny cages. According to PETA Asia, the animals displayed many signs of distress and some would have their canine teeth removed if they tried to defend themselves.
“These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied mental stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to pick coconuts,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA believes virtually all coconuts from Thailand are picked by abused monkeys and is calling on kind people to buy coconut products that are sourced elsewhere.”
Companies typically do not use monkey labor to harvest coconut water as it comes from a dwarf variety of trees. PETA Asia confirmed that coconut water company Harmless Harvest does not use monkey labor. Products sourced from other coconut-growing regions—such as Brazil, Colombia, and Hawaii—use humane, monkey-free methods of harvesting.
PETA Asia invites all Thailand-based coconut suppliers to provide evidence that they do not use forced monkey labor.
Photo Credit: PETA Asia