The UK Supermarket chain Co-op has agreed not to source coconut milk from Thailand because of the common exploitation of monkeys in the country’s coconut industry. From now on, Co-op’s own-brand coconut milk will be sourced from Sri Lanka, where monkey labour is not used to harvest coconuts as in Thailand, and it will be going into 2,400 UK stores.

The animal rights organisation PETA, which has been campaigning on this issue for years, asked the company to extend this policy to include branded Thai coconut milk products and urges everyone to avoid buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand due to the rampant abuse involved in their production. PETA Asia’s third investigation, conducted from December 2021 to July 2022, exposed coconut pickers, brokers, farms, and monkey-training operations in nine Thai provinces, including top-producing ones. One trainer was recorded dangling a screaming monkey by the neck and striking him with a tether, a monkey used for breeding was kept chained alone in the sun, without access to water, and other young monkeys languished in cramped cages.

Co-op has joined other brands in moving away from the Thai coconut industry. In April 2023, HelloFresh announced that it would stop sourcing coconut milk from Thailand due to concerns over monkeys being used to pick up coconuts from palm trees in the farms of this country. HelloFresh is a publicly traded meal kit company based in Berlin, Germany, and whilst it is the largest meal-kit provider in the United States, it also operates in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and Japan. In June 2022, Walmart, the American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores in the United States, announced it had stopped selling Chaokoh’s coconut milk following two undercover investigations by PETA.

“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’.