International grocery giant Ahold Delhaize—which operates its U.S. headquarters out of Salisbury, NC and has 2,000 stores and distribution centers nationwide, including Giant Food, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, and Hannaford—has committed to not stocking or selling any coconut products sourced from suppliers that use monkey labor. The move follows PETA’s undercover investigation of Thailand’s coconut industry, which revealed that monkeys are chained, confined to cramped cages, and forced to climb trees and pick coconuts for coconut milk and other products sold by major brands like Chaokoh and Aroy-D.
PETA visited four “monkey schools,” eight farms, and one coconut-picking competition, in which chained monkeys—reportedly illegally captured as babies—were forced to climb palm trees and pick coconuts for export around the world. When not being forced to pick coconuts, the animals were kept tethered, chained to old tires, or confined to cages barely larger than their bodies. At the facilities, monkeys displayed stereotypic repetitive behavior indicative of extreme stress. One monkey in a cage on a truck bed shook the cage repeatedly in a desperate, futile attempt to escape, and a screaming monkey on a rope frantically tried to run away from a handler. An investigator learned that if monkeys try to defend themselves, their canine teeth may be pulled out.
“These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied mental stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to pick coconuts,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA believes virtually all coconuts from Thailand are picked by abused monkeys and is calling on kind people to buy coconut products that are sourced elsewhere.”