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Nov 12, 2020
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Wegmans is the latest retailer to drop Chaokoh coconut milk, the Rochester, New York-based supermarket chain confirmed to USA TODAY.

The grocer follows Costco, Walgreens, Food Lion, Giant Food and Stop & Shop, who also stopped stocking brands of coconut milk from Thai suppliers who People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has accused of using monkeys as forced labor.

"The product in question is no longer available at Wegmans," company spokeswoman Deana Percassi said in a brief statement to USA TODAY.

PETA has been pushing stores to stop selling coconut milk it says were made with coconuts harvested by monkeys since it began investigating the alleged animal exploitation in 2019.

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"Milk from coconuts picked by chained monkeys doesn't belong on grocery shelves any more than monkeys belong on those chains," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a news release. "Wegmans heard PETA's message, and now PETA is calling on Walmart and Target to join it and the thousands of other stores that reject products of forced monkey labor."

Target and Kroger both recently told USA TODAY that they were looking into the matter.

"Kroger has a longstanding commitment to responsible business practices, including the humane treatment of animals,” the retailer said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We have re-engaged our suppliers, as well as other stakeholders, on this issue to re-confirm they are also protecting animal welfare.”

Kroger is the nation's largest grocery chain.

"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 Friday. "We’re looking into Chaokoh’s practices and will determine next steps accordingly."

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The Thailand-based maker of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd, recently told USA TODAY that it has audited coconut plantations using a third party and shared a copy of the 14-page “Monkey-Free Coconut Due Diligence Assessment.” The report 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 said in a statement, which noted that its suppliers have signed memorandums of understanding that no monkey labor at their farms.
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