Wegmans Is One of Only a Few Still Selling Coconut Milk Brand That Uses Forced Monkey Labor
For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2020
Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382
Rochester, N.Y. – Wegmans CEO Colleen Wegman will receive a special delivery this week, courtesy of PETA: A bunch of fresh, humanely obtained coconuts to remind her that selling products obtained through forced monkey labor is coco-nuts.
Even though monkeys in Thailand are chained in barren environments, separated from their peers, driven insane, and forced to climb trees to pick coconuts for coconut milk sold by Chaokoh, Wegmans is one of the few holdouts still selling the brand. More than 25,000 stores around the world—including chains Walgreens, Giant, and Food Lion—have pledged not to sell coconut products obtained through monkey labor after PETA shared with them the cruelty uncovered in its exposé of this practice in the Thai coconut industry.
“Coconuts are sweet, but the ways in which monkeys in Thailand are deprived and exploited to pick them is anything but,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Smart, sensitive primates don’t deserve to be subjected to bitter lives of forced labor.”
The group is also sending coconuts and letters to the CEOs of Save Mart and Publix as well as the president of Woodman’s to ask them to reconsider their business relationship with Chaokoh.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Wegman follows.
August 31, 2020
Dear Ms. Wegman,
Greetings from PETA. I hope this message finds you well. We’ve sent you these coconuts in the hope of cracking open some dialog about reconsidering your business relationship with Chaokoh, a brand sold by your company and implicated in a recent PETA Asia exposé of Thailand’s coconut industry. This investigation revealed that Chaokoh is complicit in an industry that’s forcing monkeys—confined for life, sometimes with their teeth removed, always on chains, and often driven insane from being deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them—to collect coconuts.
It seems that monkeys used in the coconut industry are illegally captured in their natural habitat as babies. Then, they endure abusive training. Investigators visited “monkey schools,” which exploit the animals to entertain visitors through tricks such as riding bicycles and shooting basketballs. Coercion is used to train them to pick coconuts, as they wouldn’t voluntarily do it.
The monkeys are isolated from their peers as they spend their lives chained, transported in cages, and forced to climb trees in order to collect coconuts. The captive animals display stereotypic types of behavior, such as circling endlessly. Similar abuse was found at all 13 randomly selected locations.
Chaokoh produces coconuts for coconut milk that you sell. Its refusal to take a position against cruelty to animals is not sitting well with ethical consumers, and your own current position stands in contrast to that of the more than 25,000 other stores that have pledged not to purchase products from any company that depends on forced monkey labor.
We’d love to work together to get coconut products involving such labor off your shelves. May we please hear from you?
Ingrid E. Newkirk