Jan 25, 2021
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Target has joined Costco and other retailers in dropping Chaokoh coconut milk.
The Minneapolis-based retailer confirmed to USA TODAY on Monday that it decided to remove products from the Thai supplier People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) accused of using monkeys as forced labor to pick coconuts from trees.
“We believe in the humane treatment of animals and expect those who do business with us to do the same,” Target said in a statement to USA TODAY. “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 in November 2020.”
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PETA has been pushing stores to stop selling coconut milk allegedly made with coconuts harvested by monkeys since it began investigating the alleged animal exploitation in 2019.
“By dropping Chaokoh, Target is joining thousands of stores that refuse to profit from chained monkeys’ misery,” Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president, said in a news release Monday. “PETA exposés have confirmed that Thai coconut producers are exploiting monkeys and lying about it, so there’s no excuse for any grocery store to keep Chaokoh on its shelves.”
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USA TODAY reached out to the Thailand-based maker of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd., which has denied using monkeys and previously told USA TODAY that it has audited coconut plantations using a third party. It shared a copy of the 14-page “Monkey-Free Coconut Due Diligence Assessment,” which says 64 farms out of 817 were randomly selected and "did not find the use of monkey for coconut harvesting."
"Following the recent news about the use of 'monkey labour' in Thailand’s coconut industry, Chaokoh, one of the world’s leaders in coconut milk production, reassures that we do not engage the use of monkey labour in our coconut plantations," the company has said in a previousstatement, which noted that its suppliers have signed memorandums of understanding that no monkey labor at their farms.
Costco dropped the product in October and Wegmans confirmed in November it was also removing the product. In late October, Target told USA TODAY it was “looking into Chaokoh’s practices” to determine the next steps.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko