Whole Foods’ Ties to Forced Monkey Labor Prompt Guerilla Graffiti Barrage Outside HQ and Flagship Store

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Austin, Texas

Whole Foods execs have a dirty secret—and PETA is using clean graffiti to expose it. The group has pressure-washed an unmissable message on the sidewalks outside the company’s flagship store in Austin warning potential customers that the chain continues to sell coconut milk from Thailand even though it knows that the country’s coconut industry is driven by the forced labor of endangered pig-tailed macaque monkeys. The message is also plastered outside Whole Foods’ headquarters nearby as a daily reminder that PETA won’t stop speaking up for macaques until the company takes cruelly obtained Thai coconut milk off its shelves.

A monkey forced to pick coconuts in Thailand. © Catalin Biedron

“Whole Foods is propping up a filthy industry that kidnaps monkeys, chains them, and treats them as nothing more than coconut-picking machines,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on Whole Foods to clean up its actand sell coconut milk only from countries where monkey labor isn’t used, such as the Dominican Republic, India, and the Philippines.”

Many monkeys used in Thailand’s coconut-picking industry are illegally snatched from their natural habitat as babies, fitted with rigid metal collars, chained, whipped, and forced to climb trees to pick heavy coconuts. Their canine teeth are sometimes pulled out in order to leave them defenseless. 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. Multiple companies that produce coconut milk sold at Whole Foods were named by industry workers in a PETA Asia investigation as having used coconuts obtained by monkey labor. HelloFresh, Purple Carrot, and Performance Food Group stopped sourcing coconut milk from Thailand following PETA Asia’s exposé.

PETA’s message can be found at 12 spots on the sidewalks outside Whole Foods Market at 525 N. Lamar Blvd. and the company’s headquarters at 550 Bowie St.

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 PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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