Germany-based meal delivery company HelloFresh will stop selling coconut milk sourced from Thailand due to the country’s use of monkey slave labor.
In November last year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for a worldwide boycott of Thai producers of coconut milk after an investigation found that monkeys in Thailand are chained, beaten and forced “to spend long hours climbing tall trees and picking heavy coconuts.”
The nonprofit organization also specifically called out HelloFresh and its coconut milk suppliers, Aroy-D and Suree, for engaging in the “rampant abuse” of monkey slave labor.
Following the eight-month long investigation, PETA launched a campaign against HelloFresh, which involved supporters sending nearly 100,000 emails to the company’s executives to push for change.
The company recently announced that it would “cease purchasing and seek new suppliers” by this summer.
“We do not tolerate any form of animal abuse in our supply chain,” HelloFresh told Axios. “Out of an abundance of caution we will not be placing orders for coconut milk from Thailand.”
Furthermore, the company said it will ban all coconut milk exports from Thailand.
PETA Corporate Projects Manager Carys Bennett celebrated HelloFresh’s decision in a news release.
HelloFresh’s decision will help protect monkeys from being kidnapped, chained, and whipped in the coconut trade. By cutting ties with Thai coconut suppliers, leaders like HelloFresh are helping PETA push the industry away from using and abusing monkeys, who belong in nature with their families.
According to Laura Shields, PETA’s director of corporate responsibility, they are pushing companies to source from other countries that produce coconut milk without the use of monkeys, such as the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Dominican Republic.
PETA is now calling on Whole Foods and other retailers to follow HelloFresh’s lead. According to Axios, major retailers, including Walmart, Target and Costco, have also stopped selling coconut milk from certain Thai suppliers accused of monkey slave labor.
Thailand reportedly holds approximately 80% of the market share for coconut milk in the U.S.
According to export data provided by the Office of Agricultural Affairs at the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C., the country exported nearly 78,000 tons of coconut milk in 2020.
The Royal Thai Embassy has announced efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand to prevent animal cruelty, including a “Monkey Free Plus” program.
“Both the Thai government and the industry are making sure that coconut milk exported from Thailand is not obtained from the use of monkey labor,” the embassy wrote in a statement to Axios.