BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly known as PETA, is criticizing Wegmans for selling coconut milk that they say uses forced monkey labor.
According to PETA, monkeys are, 'forced to climb trees to pick coconuts' for coconut milk made by the brand Chaokoh and that Wegmans is one of the few holdouts still selling the product.
PETA says it is delivering 'humanely obtained' coconuts to Wegmans this week.
The organization sent this letter to Wegmans CEO Colleen Wegman
Dear Ms. Wegman,
Greetings from PETA. I hope this message finds you well. We’ve sent you these coconuts in the hope of cracking open some dialog about reconsidering your business relationship with Chaokoh, a brand sold by your company and implicated in a recent PETA Asia exposé of Thailand’s coconut industry. This investigation revealed that Chaokoh is complicit in an industry that’s forcing monkeys—confined for life, sometimes with their teeth removed, always on chains, and often driven insane from being deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them—to collect coconuts.
It seems that monkeys used in the coconut industry are illegally captured in their natural habitat as babies. Then, they endure abusive training. Investigators visited “monkey schools,” which exploit the animals to entertain visitors through tricks such as riding bicycles and shooting basketballs. Coercion is used to train them to pick coconuts, as they wouldn’t voluntarily do it.
The monkeys are isolated from their peers as they spend their lives chained, transported in cages, and forced to climb trees in order to collect coconuts. The captive animals display stereotypic types of behavior, such as circling endlessly. Similar abuse was found at all 13 randomly selected locations.
Chaokoh produces coconuts for coconut milk that you sell. Its refusal to take a position against cruelty to animals is not sitting well with ethical consumers, and your own current position stands in contrast to that of the more than 25,000 other stores that have pledged not to purchase products from any company that depends on forced monkey labor.
We’d love to work together to get coconut products involving such labor off your shelves. May we please hear from you?
Ingrid E. Newkirk
A Wegmans spokesperson issued the following statement
PETA sent letters to a number of retailers and issued a press release about each. This is regarding one specific SKU of canned coconut milk that we sell in the international section of the store, and we are actively investigating the matter.