Target is the latest company to join other major retailers in dropping Chaokoh, a popular coconut milk, from its shelves following allegations of forced monkey labor, reported USA TODAY. Back in October, Costco joined other retailers including Walgreens, Food Lion, Giant Food and Stop & Shop in pulling the Thailand-based product after an investigation by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said that monkeys were chained up and forced to do hard labor in the form of coconut picking.
“By dropping Chaokoh, Target is joining thousands of stores that refuse to profit from chained monkeys’ misery,” said PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman in a statement emailed to TODAY Food. “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 claimed its first investigation found 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," said the organization. "After a global outcry, the coconut industry claimed to have changed this practice but 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."
"We believe in the humane treatment of animals and expect those who do business with us to do the same," said a representative for Target in an email to TODAY. "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 November 2020."
TODAY Food reached out to Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd, the makers of Chaokoh for comment but did not immediately hear back.
In a previous email to TODAY Food back in October, Chaokoh said that the company does not support any kind of animal labor and referred to the "Monkey-free Coconut Due Diligence Assessment" on their website that shows zero major or minor findings of monkey labor.
Target joins more than 26,000 stores including chains Wegmans, Costco, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop that have cut ties with coconut milk brands that use coconuts picked by monkeys. PETA is now focusing on other retailers that still do business with Chaokoh, including Kroger, Albertsons and Publix.