Things That Matter

Costco Pulls Chaokoh Coconut Milk Off the Shelves After the Brand Is Accused of Using Forced Monkey Labor

If you’re planning on buying Chaokoh coconut milk on your next trip to Costco, it’s best you look elsewhere. The wholesale giant has reportedly stopped stocking the Thailand-manufactured product due to allegations of forced monkey labor.

You read that right. USA Today reported that Costco expressed concern over Chaokoh’s labor practices after they were made aware of some upsetting accusations.

PETA alleges that monkeys are (often illegally) taken from their families in the wild and kept “chained” and “isolated” on “barren dirty farms” in Thailand where they have little opportunity to interact with their own kind. An investigator recorded upsetting footage.

The footage shows monkeys chained and caged in cramped quarters. One yanks on its cage, ostensibly trying to escape. The monkey are let out to climb trees and pick coconuts–sometimes up to 400 per day– and afterwards, they are once again confined to cages.

The coconuts they pick are used for the production of coconut milk, oils, yogurt, and other coconut-based products. While there, one of the workers told the PETA investigator that they supply their coconuts to Chaokoh.

While Costco will not publicly comment on the matter, USA Today obtained a letter a Costco executive wrote to PETA about the allegations.

“We have ceased purchasing from our supplier/owner of the brand Chaokoh,” wrote Ken Kimble, Costco’s vice president and general merchandise manager, in a letter dated September 29th.

Kimble added: “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 labor. 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.”

Although PETA has obtained footage of the monkey labor practices, the manufacturer of Chaokoh says they have conducted an internal audit of 64 farms out of 817 farms they source from. According to them, they “did not find the use of monkey for coconut harvesting.” They even presented USA Today with a 14-page document entitled the “Monkey-Free Coconut Due Diligence Assessment”.

Costco is not the only retail chain that stopped supplying Chaokoh. Walgreens, Duane Reade, ShopRite and Smart & Final are no longer selling the coconut milk brand due to the alleged animal abuse practices. Meanwhile, Target, Walmart, and Kroger still have the brand listed on their websites.

According to PETA, Thailand is the primary country that employs monkey-labor practices. Other coconut-heavy regions like Brazil, Colombia, and Hawaii use humane methods.

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