Costco drops supplier over coconut-picking monkeys

10 November 2020

Costco has dropped one of its coconut milk producers over alleged monkey labour being used at coconut farms. 

Ken Kimble, vice president and general merchandise manager of corporate food and sundries at Costco told Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, that the retailer had “ceased purchasing” from Thai coconut milk producer Chaokoh after monkey labour was reported.

In a letter shown to USA Today, Kimble said Costco shared Newkirk’s “concern about the alleged treatment of monkeys” and launched an investigation when it became aware of the potential issue.

He said: “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 labour.

“In turn, our supplier has contractually required the same of all its suppliers. In addition, our supplier is in the process of visiting every one of its supplier farms to communicate the harvest policies.”

According to PETA, investigators found cruelty to monkeys on every farm, at every monkey-training facility, and in every coconut-picking contest that used monkey labour. 

“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,” PETA said. 

“Many displayed repetitive behavior indicative of extreme mental anguish, including one monkey who chewed on one of his own limbs. One coconut farmer confirmed that when monkeys are terrified and try to defend themselves, handlers may have their teeth pulled out.”

In a statement on social media, Chaokoh said all of its suppliers had committed to use no monkey labour in their coconut picking. 

Newkirk said: “No kind shopper wants monkeys to be chained up and treated like coconut-picking machines.”

Newkirk said Costco had “made the right call to reject animal exploitation” and called on retailer Kroger to follow suit.

Earlier this year, supermarkets took action following the investigation. Morrisons suspended the supply of Chaokoh coconut milk pending an investigation, while Waitrose and Co-op outlined commitments to not sourcing products produced with monkey labour. 

Costco has been contacted for comment.

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