Coconuts and monkeys are kind of synonymous with each other, but the combination is a big no-no when it comes to food labor.
Animal rights group PETA announced Oct. 28 that Costco has stopped selling a brand of coconut milk after learning that a major Thailand-based supplier of it was using chained monkeys to pick coconuts.
In a video posted to YouTube on Sept. 23, PETA alleged that in its undercover investigation, a Thai manufacturer kidnapped monkeys in the wild and kept them on chains and in cages for labor and tourist entertainment. The group said its investigators found that monkeys had been forced to collect about 1,000 coconuts per day on eight different farms across Thailand.
PETA said it met with Costco representatives at the retailer's headquarters this past January, and that its decision to drop the coconut milk brand Chaokoh came after subsequent discussions and a large-scale petition.
In a press release, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said, “No kind shopper wants monkeys to be chained up and treated like coconut-picking machines. Costco made the right call to reject animal exploitation, and PETA is calling on holdouts like Kroger to follow suit.”
In a Sept. 29 letter PETA provided to USA Today, Costco’s VP and general merchandise manager of corporate food and sundries said, “We have ceased purchasing from our supplier/owner of the brand Chaokoh. We will continue to monitor the implementation of the harvest policies and once satisfied will resume purchasing.”
Costco — which operates 795 retail warehouses and had 2019 global sales of more than $150 billion — previously sold Chaokoh coconut milk in bulk. PETA said that Costco’s dropping of the brand follows similar action by Walgreens, Food Lion, Giant Food and Stop & Shop.