The surge of dairy-free milk alternatives saw the rise of various fan-favorite drinks like Oat, Almond, and Coconut Milk. But, there’s a shocking reason why you won’t be seeing coconut milk on your next trip to Costco. The warehouse giant will stop selling the popular coconut milk brand, Chaokoh, after PETA alleges its production process includes forced money labor in Thailand, as reported by USA Today. According to PETA, the monkeys have been abused and exploited in their labor of coconut picking.
Costco follows the leads of other retailers such as Walgreens, Food Lion, Giant Food, and Stop & Shop in pledging to remove the coconut products from their shelves.
In a letter obtained by the publication from PETA, Costco Vice President Ken Kimble wrote, “We have ceased purchasing from our supplier/owner of the brand Chaokoh. We will continue to monitor the implementation of the harvest policies and once satisfied will resume purchasing.”
Kimble continued, “We have made it clear to the supplier that we do not support the use of monkeys for harvesting and that all harvesting must be done by human labor. In turn, our supplier has contractually required the same of all its suppliers.” The Costco VP added that they are taking their responsibility very seriously and their supplier is currently in the process of visiting every one of its supplier farms in order to properly communicate their harvest policies.
The Thailand-based maker of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd, denied the allegations of forced monkey labor to Reuters in July and said the allegations have caused their sales to drop as much as 30%.
A victory for PETA, a representative from the organization, Kent Stein, told TODAY that abusive monkey labor is not uncommon in Thailand. Stein added, “It is common for monkeys to be used for coconut production. Thailand is the only country where it still occurs. So if you get coconut milk from Malaysia or Indonesia it probably is not from coconuts picked by monkeys. It’s a cruel tradition.”
It looks like there will be a shortage of coconut milk at Costco for a while. In the meantime, why not learn to DIY your own organic coconut milk?
Before you go, check out our gallery below: