For Immediate Release:
June 19, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Emeryville, Calif. – Whole Foods Northern California Region President Omar Gaye will get an unusual gift this week: PETA is sending the executive an armload of human-picked coconuts along with a letter urging him to ban Thai coconut milk from the company’s stores and supply chain.
Meanwhile, over in Oakland, a new sky-high image across from Whole Foods’ Adams Point location warns shoppers not to buy coconut milk from Thailand, whose coconut-picking industry is fueled by the labor of endangered pig-tailed macaques—many of whom were illegally snatched from their forest homes as babies. Handlers fit them with rigid metal collars, use chains and leashes to choke and control them, and may pull out their canine teeth so that they can’t defend themselves. Because the industry and the Thai government lie about their systemic reliance on forced monkey labor, it’s impossible to guarantee that any coconut milk from Thailand is free of it.
“Whole Foods’ decision to continue selling Thai coconut milk, including through its own 365 by Whole Foods Market brand, exhibits a willful disregard for monkeys being kidnapped and used as coconut-picking machines,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on Whole Foods to stop supporting Thailand’s abusive coconut industry and get Thai coconut milk off its shelves immediately.”
One of Whole Foods’ coconut milk suppliers was implicated in PETA Asia’s latest investigation into the trade, but the company failed to act after PETA presented it with this information. PETA is sending a letter and coconuts to each of Whole Foods’ nine regional presidents.
The billboard is located just 300 feet across the street from Whole Foods Market at 230 Bay Place. PETA’s ad will also appear in various other cities including Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
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 about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.