Supermarkets Drop Coconut Products As Investigation Exposes Monkey Labor

Andrew Cummings
July 7, 2020

This week, more than 15,000 stores pledged they would no longer carry coconut milk brands Aroy-D or Chaokoh after an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia exposed that the brands' suppliers cruelly force monkeys to pick coconuts.

The accusation about monkey abuse might have an ulterior motive to ban Thai products where in the past Thai rice farmers had used water buffaloes in paddy fields and foreigners never banned Thai rice.

"Happy Waitrose [JLPLC.UL], Co-op, Boots & Ocado (LON:) have vowed not to offer products that use monkey labour, when Morrisons has by now taken out these from its merchants", Symonds mentioned on her Twitter account.

In his Facebook post today, Mr. Atthawich Suwanpakdee, secretary-general of the Kla Party, asked about the difference between the use of monkeys to pick coconuts in Thailand and the use of pigs in the search for truffles in Europe.

"Using monkeys for the coconut industry is nearly non-existent", Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters, saying human labour had long ago replaced monkeys.

She said over the years shorter trees have been cultivated to facilitate picking coconuts by other methods.

Thailand does not use monkeys to harvest coconuts on an industrial scale for its export industry, said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit on Monday. "Over to you! Please stop selling these products too", she wrote.

"We don't tolerate these practices and would remove any product from sale that is known to have used monkey labour during its production".

The primates are prized for their work, as a male monkey can collect an average of 1,600 coconuts per day and a female can get 600, while a human can only collect around 80 per day. Multiple locations were suppliers of leading global coconut product providers, including two of the largest coconut brands.

The animal rights group claimed that each macaque is forced to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day, and the allegations have driven major Western retailers to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves.

It said it also discovered "monkey schools", where the animals were trained to pick fruit, as well as ride bikes or play basketball for the entertainment of tourists.

Investigators documented monkeys displaying "stereotypic repetitive behaviour", indicative of extreme stress.

"Monkeys were chained to old tyres or confined to cages that were barely large enough for them to turn around in". One monkey was seen frantically shaking the cage bars in a vain attempt to escape.

The animal rights organisation's investigation found farms chaining monkeys to tires outside and handlers taking out the monkeys' teeth to prevent being bitten.

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