Your local Target retailer will no longer be carrying coconut milk made by the Thai company Chaokoh after a probe uncovered the drink is linked to forced monkey labor in the region, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“By dropping Chaokoh, Target is joining thousands of stores that refuse to profit from chained monkeys’ misery,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement on Monday.
“PETA exposés have confirmed that Thai coconut producers are exploiting monkeys and lying about it, so there’s no excuse for any grocery store to keep Chaokoh on its shelves.”
PETA has kept a close eye on monkey manipulation in Thailand since 2019, even spearheading two independent undercover investigations that discovered the animals are obliged to pick coconuts all day while wearing chains around their necks. The organization’s inquiries uncovered “cruelty to monkeys on every farm, at every monkey-training facility, and in every coconut-picking contest that used monkey labor.”
“When not being forced to pick coconuts or perform in circus-style shows for tourists, the animals were kept tethered, chained to old tires, or confined to cages barely larger than their bodies,” PETA wrote in a press release.
After PETA’s investigations, the coconut industry insisted it altered its conduct and would stop using monkey labor, but a follow-up investigation showed it was still an ongoing issue, according to PETA.
“PETA Asia’s second investigation found producers still using monkey labor and industry insiders discussing how farms conceal this practice by simply hiding monkeys until auditors leave or by hiring contractors to bring in monkeys only during harvest time,” PETA stated.
Target executives reported to the New York Post that they made the decision to take the products off the shelves in November of last year.
“We believe in the humane treatment of animals and expect those who do business with us to do the same,” a spokesperson outlined in a statement.
“We take seriously the claims made against Chaokoh, and given they were unable to sufficiently address the concerns raised, we made the decision to remove their product from our assortment.”
In addition to reaping the benefits of monkey labor, the Tourism Authority of Thailand actively promotes the “Monkey Center,” where tourists from around the world can watch over the animals as they get trained to gather coconuts for just 300 baht, or around $10 American. Kids are allowed to watch the show for the low price of 150 baht, or roughly $5.
“The Monkey Center is established and has turned into a new tourist attraction which becomes popular among local people and foreigners. In the center, the monkeys will be trained to collect the coconuts. Each training session takes about 4 months and requires a trainer and a student,” the tourism authority’s website says.
“Moreover, you can enjoy other monkey shows in the center,” the website adds.
PETA has pressured several major grocery chains to discontinue carrying Chaokoh and more than 26,000 stores have gotten onboard so far, including Wegmans, Costco, Food Lion, Stop & Shop and now Target, who have all stopped their relationship with the brand.
Costco pulling the products was a huge victory for PETA. “No kind shopper wants monkeys to be chained up and treated like coconut-picking machines,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk declared in a statement, according to USA Today.
“Costco made the right call to reject animal exploitation, and PETA is calling on holdouts like Kroger to follow suit.”
Kroger, Albertsons, and Publix have decided to continue making the primate-led products available at their locations.
Kroger, the country’s biggest grocery chain, said it has a “longstanding commitment to responsible business practices, including the humane treatment of animals.”
“We have re-engaged our suppliers, as well as other stakeholders, on this issue to re-confirm they are also protecting animal welfare,” Kroger spokesmen added in a statement.