Thailand denies monkeys abused to harvest coconut products

Daniel Fowler
July 7, 2020

A number of United Kingdom supermarkets have removed certain coconut products now known to be produced using monkey labor.

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.

Peta have called on clients to avoid buying coconut products from Thailand to prevent supporting the use of enslaved monkeys at farms.

"Happy Waitrose [JLPLC.UL], Co-op, Boots & Ocado (LON:) have vowed not to offer products that use monkey labour, when Morrisons has by now taken out these from its merchants", Symonds mentioned on her Twitter account.

A monkey is trained to pick coconuts in Surat Thani province.

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 USA (including Giant Food, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, and Hannaford), as well as its 889 Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands.

A spokesman for retail giant Tesco told the BBC: "Our own-brand coconut milk and coconut water does not use monkey labour in its production and we don't sell any of the branded products identified by Peta".

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A spokesperson for Sainsbury's - the second largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom - said, "We are actively reviewing our ranges and investigating this complex issue with our suppliers".

John Gregson, communications manager for health and agriculture at Waitrose and Partners said: 'Waitrose and Partners supports PETA's goal to finish the use of monkey labour in the coconut industry. "Please stop selling these products too".

"We don't tolerate these practices and would remove any product from sale that is known to have used monkey labour during its production". It's thought that a human can pick about 80.

After being captured, the monkeys are trained in dedicated facilities - not just to pick fruit, but also to perform tricks to entertain tourists.

An investigator saw monkeys being transported in cramped cages that were barely large enough for them to turn around in and others left in locked cages in the back of a ute with no shelter from the pouring rain.

The animal rights organisation's investigation found farms chaining monkeys to tires outside and handlers taking out the monkeys' teeth to prevent being bitten.

"These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied psychological stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to gather coconuts", says Peta Director Elisa Allen.

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