Great Britain

Costco stops selling coconut milk brand over allegations of monkey labour, Peta says

Costco has reportedly stopped selling a brand of coconut milk that allegedly relies on coconuts harvested using monkey labour, Peta has said.

In a press release, the animal rights organisation said that Costco will no longer purchase coconut milk from Thailand-based coconut milk producer Chaokoh until “it stops using chained monkeys as coconut-picking machines”.

The organisation cited an undercover investigation by Peta Asia, which reportedly found “cruelty to monkeys on every farm, at every monkey-training facility, and in every coconut-picking contest that used monkey labour” as the reason behind the retailer’s decision to no longer stock products from Thai suppliers accused of using monkeys as forced labour.

Undercover investigators also alleged that the monkeys used in Thailand’s coconut industry are kept tethered, “chained to old tires,” or kept in small cages when they are not “being forced to pick coconuts” or “perform in circus-style shows for tourists.”

Peta shared a letter from Costco sent in late September with USAToday, in which Ken Kimble, Costco vice president and general merchandise manager of corporate food and sundries, said the company had “ceased purchasing from our supplier/owner of the brand Chaokoh”.

Kimble also said Costco will “continue to monitor the implementation of the harvest policies and once satisfied will resume purchasing,” according to USAToday.

“We have made it clear to the supplier that we do not support the use of monkeys for harvesting and that all harvesting must be done by human labour,” Kimble continued. “In turn, our supplier has contractually required the same of all its suppliers. In addition, our supplier is in the process of visiting every one of its supplier farms to communicate the harvest policies.”

When reached for comment, a Costco representative told The Independent the retailer would “not be able to respond at this time”.

Costco reportedly made the decision to stop selling the milk after the animal rights organisation met with Costco representatives in January.

As of 29 October, searches for Chaokoh on Costco’s website show no results.

Peta Asia investigation alleges use of monkeys as forced labour

The retailer follows companies including Walgreens, Giant Food, Food Lion and Stop & Shop, which have also reportedly stopped stocking brands of coconut milk linked to animal labour.

Now, Peta is calling on Kroger, the country’s largest grocery chain, to stop selling the brand of coconut milk as well.

"No kind shopper wants monkeys to be chained up and treated like coconut-picking machines," Peta president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. "Costco made the right call to reject animal exploitation, and Peta is calling on holdouts like Kroger to follow suit."

Peta Asia investigation alleges use of monkeys as forced labour

In a statement to USAToday, the makers of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co Ltd, denied the use of monkey labour on its coconut plantations.

"Following the recent news about the use of ‘monkey labour’ in Thailand’s coconut industry, Chaokoh, one of the world’s leaders in coconut milk production, reassures that we do not engage the use of monkey labour in our coconut plantations," the company said in a statement.

The Thailand-based company also said its suppliers have signed agreements not to use monkey labour.

The Independent has contacted Chaokoh for comment.

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