Some coconut water and oil has been removed from supermarket shelves after it emerged the products were made using fruit picked by captive pig-tailed macaques.


A PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Asia investigation revealed that monkeys in Thailand are being kept chained, abusively trained and forced to climb trees to pick coconuts that are used to make coconut milk, meat, flour, oil and other products.

The animal rights group describes the primates as being treated like “coconut-picking machines” and says male monkeys are able to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day. It has found eight farms where macaques were forced to pick coconuts for export around the world.

“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.

More than 16,000 stores around the world have committed to never stocking products sourced from monkey labour. In the UK, major retailers including Walgreens Boots Alliance (operator of Boots) and Asda, among others, have dropped Thai coconut brands following the exposé, and some supermarkets have committed to never knowingly selling any products sourced from monkey labour.

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Brands sold in the UK with policies on ethically sourcing coconuts:

  • Ayam
  • Biona
  • Ceres Organics
  • Coconut Merchant
  • Coconuts Organic
  • Essential Trading
  • Koko Dairy Free
  • Lucy Bee
  • The Coconut Collaborative
  • Tiana
  • Three By One
  • The Groovy Food Company


Main image: Pigtailed macaque climbing palm tree to collect coconuts in Thailand. © Desmond Morris/Universal/Getty


Jo PriceDeputy editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine