A brand of coconut milk is slowly disappearing from the shelves of America's retailers thanks to an effort by PETA. Target on Monday confirmed to USA Today that it no longer sells Chaokoh coconut milk after PETA accused the Thai brand of relying on forced monkey labor. Since 2019, PETA has been investigating what it calls the "chained monkeys' misery" at the hands of Thai coconut producers who allegedly kidnap the monkeys in the wild, put them to work picking coconuts from trees, and otherwise keep them "chained to old tires, or confined to cages barely larger than their bodies." "We take seriously the claims made against Chaokoh, and given they were unable to sufficiently address the concerns raised, we made the decision to remove their product from our assortment," said Target, per USA Today.
Chaokoh's maker, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd., has previously denied that monkeys harvest its coconuts and has said a random sampling it did of 8% of its 817 farms confirmed that. Target follows Costco and Wegmans, which both confirmed in the fall that they'd no longer carry the product. The Tampa Bay Times in early January reported that PETA has been pressuring Publix to follow suit—in one case with members protesting at the chain's Lakeland headquarters while wearing monkey costumes. Publix has said it was given "written assurance" by Thailand's ambassador to the US that the Thai Food Processors' Association verified monkeys were not being used as PETA has claimed. PETA counters that producers have made their use of monkeys less obvious by doing things like bringing them on-site at harvest time only. (Read more PETA stories.)