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Walmart becomes the latest major retailer to pull Chaokoh coconut milk from its shelves after PETA made allegations of forced monkey labor in the industry

Nirun Wongwanich trains a monkey during a training session at a monkey school for coconut harvest in Surat Thani province, Thailand, on July 10, 2020.

Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

  • Walmart has pulled Chaokoh coconut milk from shelves following allegations of forced monkey labor.
  • The animal rights group PETA says it uncovered “the use of chained and caged monkeys in Thailand’s coconut-picking industry” in two investigations.
  • Walmart follows other retailers like Target, Kroger, and Costco that have also ditched the brand.

Walmart is pulling a coconut milk brand from its shelves after an animal rights group alleged that forced monkey labor is used in the industry.

The retailer stopped selling Chaokoh coconut milk after the nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said two undercover investigations it conducted “revealed the use of chained and caged monkeys in Thailand’s coconut-picking industry.” The brand Chaokoh and its manufacturer, Theppadungporn Coconut Co., are based in Thailand.

“The coconut trade uses social monkeys as chained-up coconut-picking machines, depriving them of any opportunity to eat, play, or spend time with their families,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a press release Tuesday.

The organization says its investigation found companies in the coconut industry still using monkey labor despite public outrage about it and their claims to have stopped.

“Producers were still using monkey labor and that industry insiders were 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 said in its press release. “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.”

Walmart joins other big names like Target, Costco, Kroger, Albertsons, Publix, Wegmans, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop that have stopped selling brands of coconut milk made with coconuts picked by monkeys.

Walmart and Theppadungporn Coconut Co. did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

In 2020, however, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. denied the allegations, telling USA Today at the time, “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 labor in our coconut plantations.” 

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