Walmart, the American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores in the United States, has announced it has stopped selling Chaokoh’s coconut milk following two undercover investigations by the animal rights organization PETA.

PETA Asia exposés have revealed that terrified young monkeys in Thailand are kept chained, are trained abusively, and are forced to climb trees to pick coconuts that are later used to make coconut products. In 2019, PETA Asia investigators visited eight farms that exploit monkeys, including those for Chaokoh, as well as several monkey-training facilities and a coconut-picking competition. Since being alerted to this situation Chaokoh and the Thai government have failed to take meaningful action to end the use of forced monkey labour. 

A 2020 audit by a Thailand-based firm said the coconut company didn’t use monkeys in picking coconuts, but a new PETA Asia investigation the same year found that monkeys were still being used at many farms, that monkey training centres were still in operation, and that coconut-picking competitions using monkeys were still taking place. Following PETA Asia’s investigations, more than 45,000 stores, including Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Target, and Wegmans, stopped purchasing Chaokoh’s products. Now Walmart has joined them. A PETA spokesperson said “After hearing from PETA and tens of thousands of concerned shoppers, Walmart has ended its sales of Chaokoh brand coconut milk, for which monkeys are chained, caged, and forced into a lifetime of labour picking coconuts…When not being forced to pick coconuts or perform in circus-style shows for tourists, the animals were kept tethered, chained to old tires, or confined to cages barely larger than their bodies.”  Fortunately for many vegans who enjoy products with coconut ingredients, most coconut farms do not use monkey labour, but if the coconuts come from Thailand, it is always good to double-check.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.