LOS ANGELES - A number of supermarkets and drugstores have removed coconut products from their stores after it was revealed that they were made from coconuts picked by monkeys.
According to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Thailand’s coconut industry utilizes monkeys who are “chained, confined to cramped cages, and forced to climb trees and pick coconuts” to be used in products like coconut water, milk and oil.
In response, several British supermarkets — including Co-Op, Waitrose and Tesco — have pledged to remove these coconut products from their shelves.
PETA Asia investigators visited eight farms where monkeys are forced to pick coconuts, including those for Thailand’s major coconut milk producers. The animal rights organization reported seeing “terrified young monkeys” forced to perform difficult and frustrating tasks, such as twisting “heavy coconuts until they fall” off tall trees.
According to PETA’s statement, Waitrose emphasized the chain’s commitment to protecting monkeys and removing the coconut products from their shelves.
“Waitrose & Partners supports PETA’s goal to end the use of monkey labour in the coconut industry,” said John Gregson, partner and communications manager. “As part of our animal welfare policy we have committed to never knowingly sell any products sourced from monkey labour.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, tweeted her support for the suspension of products made by unethical animal labor.
“Glad Waitrose, Co-Op, Boots & Ocado have vowed not to sell products that use monkey labour, while Morrisons has already removed these from its stores,” she tweeted. “Time for ALL supermarkets to do the same.”
The Walgreens Boots Alliance has also committed to not selling any coconut products of Thai origin in its Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the United States.
“These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied mental stimulation, companionship, freedom and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to pick coconuts,” wrote PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in a press release. “PETA believes virtually all coconuts from Thailand are picked by abused monkeys and is calling on kind people to buy coconut products that are sourced elsewhere.”