Monkey Labor Cover-Up in U.S.-Thai Coconut Trade: Publix Tied to PETA Exposé

Publix’s Relationship With Chaokoh a Major Stumbling Block to Ending Abuse, PETA Says

For Immediate Release:
January 7, 2021

Contact:
Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Lakeland, Fla. – PETA Asia investigators recently returned to Thailand one year after exposing the use of forced monkey labor on Thai coconut farms—prompting Costco and other retailers around the world to cut ties with Thai coconut milk brands—and found that manufacturers and the Thai government are lying to the public and importers about monkey use, which continues despite false claims. In response, PETA is pushing Publix with urgency to reconsider its business relationship with coconut milk brand Chaokoh, the biggest company implicated in the investigation.

PETA Asia’s new video, available here, includes interviews with industry insiders who discuss how farms simply hide monkeys until auditors leave or are able to buy monkeys without registering them, even though registration is legally required. Of the 14 coconut farms that PETA Asia’s investigators visited in 2020, half were confirmed to be using monkeys—including two farms visited the previous year. As for the rest, because farmers can hire contractors to bring in monkeys only during harvest time, it’s nearly impossible to know whether they’re monkey-free.

“Useless audits and empty promises haven’t stopped monkeys—some whose teeth have been pulled out—from being chained for life and forced to labor on Thai coconut farms,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on Publix to stop selling milk from coconuts picked by abused monkeys.”

To push Publix to reconsider its relationship with Chaokoh, PETA sent the company’s CEO, Todd Jones, a delivery of humanely picked coconuts; dumped wheelbarrows full of coconuts on the doorstep of its headquarters; erected a billboard in Lakeland showing a terrified monkey from the investigation; and created a more accurate company logo. Tens of thousands of PETA supporters have joined PETA in calling on Publix to stop selling coconut milk obtained via monkey labor—but it has clung to the insupportable and evidently false assurance from the Thai ambassador to the U.S. and the Thai Food Processors Association that monkeys are not used for the Chaokoh products that the retailer carries.

More than 26,000 other stores—including chains Wegmans, Costco, Walgreens, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop—have banned coconut milk brands that use coconuts picked by monkeys.

Photos from the most recent investigation are available here, and broadcast-quality footage is available upon request. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind