Video/Photos: PETA Pals Disrupt Whole Foods CEO’s Local Keynote Speech Over Ties to Forced Monkey Labor

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2024

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

New York

This morning, PETA supporters armed with signs reading, “Jason Buechel: Stop Selling Coconut Milk From Tortured Monkeys,” interrupted the Whole Foods CEO’s keynote speech at the 68th Summer Fancy Food Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center with a message that resonates with anyone who objects to cruelty to animals. The animal advocates confronted Buechel over the company’s sale of Thai coconut milk—which it continues to stock despite having been informed and shown video footage of how the Thai coconut industry is driven by the forced labor of endangered pig-tailed macaques who are captured in the wild, kept chained up, trained through fear of punishment, and forced to pick coconuts, as revealed by multiple PETA Asia investigations. Photos and video footage of the disruption are available here.

Several companies that produce coconut milk sold at Whole Foods were named by industry workers in a PETA Asia investigation as having used coconuts obtained via monkey labor. Despite assurances to the contrary from Whole Foods, it’s impossible to guarantee that any coconut milk from Thailand is free of monkey labor because the industry and the Thai government cover up their reliance on the practice.

“Buechel’s failure to act despite overwhelming evidence showing that monkeys are being abused and exploited as coconut-picking machines is an appalling betrayal of Whole Foods’ stated values,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA wants Whole Foods to stop propping up this cruel industry by selling only coconut milk from countries where monkey labor isn’t being used.”

HelloFresh, Purple Carrot, and Performance Food Group have stopped sourcing coconut milk from Thailand following PETA’s exposés, as have international companies such as Aldi, ASDA, and Lidl.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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