Jun 7, 2022 - Economy

Walmart drops coconut milk amid monkey labor allegations

Walmart has discontinued the sale of Chaokoh brand coconut milk. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walmart is the latest retailer to stop selling Chaokoh coconut milk, following retail giants Costco, Target, Kroger and others who have pulled the product from shelves amid monkey labor allegations.

Why it matters: The nation’s largest retailer has discontinued stocking products from a Thai supplier who has been accused of using monkeys for forced labor, officials with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exclusively told Axios.

  • Walmart confirmed to Axios that it no longer sells Chaokoh products in stores and online.
  • Sam’s Club also did not list Chaokoh products for sale on its website as of late Monday.
  • Since 2019, when it began investigating the alleged animal exploitation, PETA has been pushing stores to stop selling coconut milk allegedly made with coconuts harvested by monkeys.

What they’re saying: “The coconut trade uses social monkeys as chained-up coconut-picking machines, depriving them of any opportunity to eat, play, or spend time with their families,” PETA Executive vice president Tracy Reiman said in a statement.

  • PETA said its supporters sent Walmart more than 86,000 emails asking it to stop selling Chaokoh products.
  • "With one PETA exposé after another confirming cruelty on coconut farms, retailers are dropping Chaokoh left and right," Reiman said.

The other side: The Thailand-based maker of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd, did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.

  • The company’s website has a summary of a 2020 report by Bureau Veritas Certification (Thailand) Ltd., which was contracted to conduct a “Monkey-Free Coconut Due Diligence Assessment.”
  • The report notes in September 2020 it randomly picked 64 out of 817 farms for the assessment and did not find the use of monkeys for coconut harvesting.

Flashback: Walgreens, Food Lion, Giant Food and Stop & Shop were among the first U.S. retailers to stop carrying Chaokoh products after PETA's investigation.

  • Costco and Wegmans pulled the products in fall 2020 and Target and Kroger in 2021.

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