Supermarkets have stopped selling coconut water and milk from certain companies after it emerged that the products were harvested using 'monkey slave labour'.
Waitrose has vowed never to sell items obtained through monkey labour after an investigation showed that popular brands were using the animal. The supermarket will thoroughly check its coconut products to ensure they are not harvested by monkeys.
Animal rights organisations have spoken out against the Thai farms which use the pigtailed macaques, often snatched from the wild, to scurry up trees and harvest coconuts. They are often forced to carry items larger than their body weight, and kept in tiny cages when not at work.
The primates are prized for their work, as a male monkey can collect an average of 1,600 coconuts per day and a female can get 600, while a human can only collect around 80 per day.
“Waitrose & Partners supports Peta’s goal to end the use of monkey labour in the coconut industry. As part of our animal welfare policy we have committed to never knowingly sell any products sourced from monkey labour,” said John Gregson, the communications manager for Health & Agriculture at Waitrose & Partners
Morrisons has removed the Thai brands from its shelves, and Boots, the Co-op and Ocado vowed they will not sell products that use monkey labour.
The investigation, by animal rights organisation Peta Asia, found farms training monkeys to pick coconuts from trees. Multiple locations were suppliers of leading international coconut product providers, including two of the largest coconut brands.
Investigators documented monkeys displaying 'stereotypic repetitive behaviour', indicative of extreme stress. Monkeys were also chained to old tires surrounded by rubbish or confined to cages barely larger than their own bodies and left in the pouring rain without shelter.
To avoid handlers being bitten, the monkeys also often have their teeth pulled out.
"These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied psychological stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to gather coconuts," says Peta Director Elisa Allen. "Peta is calling on decent people never to support the use of enslaved monkeys by shunning coconut products from Thailand."