Costco dropped the Chaokoh coconut milk brand following reports that the Thai supplier is enslaving monkeys for labor. Costco decided to no longer stock the product, which is also being done by other retailers such as Walgreens.

This decision came about after many Thai suppliers of coconut milk were reportedly using monkeys in an unethical manner. Allegedly, they put chains on monkeys and let them do the harvesting of coconuts. 

Aside from Costco and Walgreens, Food Lion, Giant Food, and Stop & Shop also proactively decided not to get stocks from Thai suppliers. 

The proof of this claim was provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), reported Meaww.

According to Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, in a statement, shoppers do not want monkeys to be enslaved in enterprises that do not treat them humanely. They are low-cost coconut picking machines. 

Rejecting animal exploitation, companies like Costco and organizations like PETA are paging other companies to follow suit. PETA, to stress what they mean, shared a letter by Costco's vice president Ken Kimble. The contents said that Costco has stopped getting from the supplier/owner of the brand Chaokoh. He added that the situation would be monitored and until harvest policies are implemented, they will not resume stocking the brand. 

Kimble added that the position of the company is clear, that the supplier's use of monkeys for harvesting is not correct. All coconut harvesting should be done by human labor. The supplier of the product should obligate its other suppliers to comply. Their main supplier should visit and check its suppliers if they are following the harvest policies set against force monkey labor.

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Kent Stein, the corporate responsibility officer, said there is proof that monkeys pick 400 coconuts every day while chained like animals. He stressed that keeping monkeys in chains is not against the law. But, it does not mean monkeys should be treated in such a manner. Retailers do not approve of such ways to obtain the product. If retailers do not get the product, then buyers will not be buying it either too. For Costco to take such a position against forced monkey labor should have a serious impact.

What is Chaokoh?

Chaokoh is the bestselling popular coconut milk brand made in Thailand by Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd. 

According to the company that is executing an investigation of coconut plantations using a third party, a 14-page report called the 'Monkey-Free Coconut Due Diligence Assessment' is checking the status of the use of monkeys for harvesting. 

From a total of 817 coconut farms, there were 64 drawn for random inspection. These 64 random coconut farms had no monkeys used for harvest. Initial allegations were disproven by the probe on the 64 farms.

One producer, Nation Thailand, has its products sent to 45 countries. In 2019, it had earnings of 7B (approx $225M) Thai Baht in total revenue. An estimated 80 percent of earnings from the produced coconut milk are possible with Canadian and U.S. exports, which are 55 percent. But companies that buy from such coconut milk producers are wary of forced monkey labor.

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