People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is calling for a worldwide boycott of Thai producers of coconut milk after it alleged that the industry has been engaging in a “rampant abuse” of monkey slave labor.
In a press release on Monday, PETA particularly called out the food delivery service company HelloFresh for allegedly obtaining coconut milk from suppliers in Thailand that engage in the abusive practice.
According to PETA, they conducted an eight-month investigation, from December 2021 to July 2022, into the nation’s coconut industry and found that monkeys are chained and forced “to spend long hours climbing tall trees and picking heavy coconuts.”
“In response to international criticism following the release of PETA Asia’s two previous investigations, the Thai government and companies that make coconut products have claimed that monkeys are no longer used in the making of exported products, but PETA Asia’s new investigation has confirmed that rampant abuse of primates is still going unchecked—and that Thai coconut industry insiders are deliberately hiding monkey labor in their supply chain… HelloFresh is still refusing to do the right thing by moving its coconut milk supply chain out of Thailand,” PETA wrote in its investigation’s webpage.
The website also contains photos and videos collected by PETA Asia investigators. Footage shows monkeys chained, beaten and dangled from their necks at coconut farms.
According to the nonprofit organization, they visited 57 operations, including coconut pickers, brokers, farms and monkey training schools, in nine provinces across Thailand. At each one, they allegedly found monkeys that were subjected to abusive training.
“PETA investigators saw endangered monkeys chained tightly by the neck when they weren’t forced to work and kept tethered in often flooded, trash-filled areas with little shelter from the elements,” PETA reportedly said in a statement. “A trainer was even caught on camera striking a screaming monkey, dangling him by his tether and collar, and beating him with a metal chain.”
HelloFresh has denied PETA’s claims in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
“HelloFresh strictly condemns any use of monkey labor in its supply chain, and we take a hard position of not procuring from suppliers or selling coconut products which have been found to use monkey labor. We have written confirmation from all of our suppliers — in the U.S. and globally — that they do not engage in these practices,” the company reportedly stated.
However, PETA claims that brokers from HelloFresh’s coconut milk suppliers, Aroy-D and Suree, have admitted to using monkey labor to investigators.
The organization said the exploited monkeys are typically kidnapped from their families as infants before they are sold to monkey training schools that violently train them to pick coconuts.
An employee for Suree claimed that the monkeys are exploited for more than a decade before they are retired and chained up for the rest of their lives, according to PETA.
“Monkeys are chained around the neck and forced to toil day in and day out, all for HelloFresh and other companies that lack a conscience,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a press release. “PETA is calling on everyone, including HelloFresh, to stop buying canned coconut milk from Thailand until monkeys are no longer used and abused for profit.”
PETA urged consumers to read the labels on coconut milk products and to only buy from brands that do not source their ingredients from Thailand.