Publix, the national chain grocer, has announced that it will no longer sell the controversial milk brand Chaokoh, which has been accused of using monkey slave labor.
Activists campaigning with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have advocated against grocers using Chaokoh for years. Back in 2020, PETA Asia went undercover to eight Thailand farms to investigate the treatment of animals. The activist group alleged that monkeys were forced to harvest coconuts while being chained to trees.
“Many monkeys displayed repetitive behavior indicative of extreme mental anguish, including one who chewed on his own limbs,” PETA said. “One coconut farmer confirmed that when monkeys are terrified and try to defend themselves, handlers pull their teeth out.”
The main producer of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd., has denied the allegations. However, following PETA’s investigation, numerous major U.S.-based grocers have stopped selling Chaokoh products, including Wegmans, Walgreens, Costco, Food Lion and Target. Publix is the latest, holding out for two years before agreeing to take the product off shelves at more than 1,200 stores in the U.S.
“A life as a chained-up coconut-picking machine is no life at all for a monkey, who needs to play, eat, and explore with family members,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a statement. “Since PETA exposés have confirmed cover-ups of cruelty on coconut farms, no company with a conscience can keep supporting Chaokoh, and Publix should be commended for taking action to help monkeys.”
As more major grocers are no longer monkeying around, PETA is focusing on Walmart, which still carries Chaokoh coconut milk, to cut the monkey business.