Thailand denies monkey labor used in coconut harvest

Thailand has insisted that the coconut produce you're buying from some British retailers is not being harvested by monkeys.

Authorities there say the country does not use primates to collect coconuts on an industrial scale.

UK-based stores such as Waitrose, Co-Op, Boots and Ocado vowed not to sell any products that campaigners say use monkeys in their production.

Morrisons has already removed Thai products from its shelves.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds last week backed calls from animal rights group PETA -- asking supermarkets to stop selling Thai coconut products following the accusations over so-called monkey "slaves".

Here's PETA Asia Manager Ashley Fruno on their research.

"PETA's undercover investigation visited 13 facilities in Thailand and found monkey abuse at every single one of those facilities. So it is something that is widespread. The government of Thailand is seeming to kind of take both positions in that they're denying the use of monkeys but they're also defending the use of monkeys, and they can't have it both ways."

But Thai authorities have vehemently denied the accusations.

And blame miscommunication on the issue.

Mananya Thaiset is the deputy agriculture minister:

"We insist that there is no animal abuse. It wouldn’t be fair at all to the coconut farmers of over 200,000 households who would be impacted due to the miscommunication on this issue. At an industrial level, we use machines and various production systems where under the European Retailers Protocol for Good Agricultural Practice, it prohibits companies from abusing animals. However, we still have the people's way of life with the monkeys, which is a different thing. The coconuts that the monkeys collect are not for export, they are just for provincial-level consumption and even that, I don't suppose it would be enough."

Last year, Thailand exported 396 million U.S. dollars' worth of coconut milk.

About 8% of it went to Britain.