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Retailers nix coconut milk from Thai suppliers that use monkey labor

Retailers including Walgreens, Giant Food, Food Lion, Stop & Shop and Hannaford are among the U.S. grocery brands vowing not to stock or sell coconut products from Thai suppliers that use monkeys as labor.

The moves came in the wake of claims this week by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said an undercover probe of eight Thai farms found monkeys were abused, chained, confined to cramped cages and made to gather as many as 1,000 coconuts a day. 

The coconuts picked by the monkeys are used in coconut milk and other products sold by major brands like Chaokoh and Aroy-D, according to PETA. 

Ahold Delhaize on Monday made the commitment on behalf of its 2,000 stores and distribution centers in the U.S. and 889 shops in the Netherlands. The Dutch company's brands in America include Giant Food, Food Lion and Stop & Shop.

"Ahold Delhaize and its local brands are proud to be recognized by PETA for our commitment to not sell coconut products that exploit monkeys," emailed a spokesperson for the multinational chain. 

Cost Plus World Market, owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, also banned Chaokoh coconut milk from its 276 U.S. stores after the brand's supplier was identified by PETA, according to the animal rights group. The retailer, however, did not return a request for comment.

In the U.K., at least four retailers also pledged to clear its suppliers of potential monkey abusers, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds also weighed in on the issue on social media, calling on other supermarkets to follow suit.

"Glad Waitrose, Co-op, Boots & Ocado have vowed not to sell products that use monkey labour, while Morrisons has already removed these from its stores," Symonds tweeted.

"Walgreens Boots Alliance has committed to not stock Aroy-D, Chaokoh, and not knowingly sell any owned brand of coconut food and drink products of Thai origin in their stores in the U.K., U.S. and Thailand," a spokesperson for the retailer emailed. The commitment is an easy one, as its 9,277 Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the U.S. never stocked the objectionable products, she added.

Representatives for Theppadungporn Coconut Co., the maker of Chaokoh coconut milk, and Thai Agri Foods, the maker of Aroy-D coconut milk, did not immediately return requests for comment.

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