LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Supporters of controversial animal rights organization PETA dressed in monkey costumes on Thursday and dumped wheelbarrows full of coconuts outside the corporate office of Publix in Lakeland.
According to a news release from the organization, the demonstration was to “remind the company that it’s nuts to do business with Thailand’s Chaokoh brand.”
In its news release, a spokesperson says a PETA Asia investigation found the brand forces monkeys to pick coconuts that are used in coconut milk products. PETA claims its investigators found the monkeys are “kept caged and chained for life.”
“Milk from coconuts picked by abused monkeys doesn’t belong on grocery shelves any more than monkeys belong on those chains,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. “PETA is calling on Publix to reject products of forced monkey labor.”
Supporters have also sent coconuts to the homes of Publix executives, the organization says, adding that the group also recently dumped fruits at Kroger’s headquarters.
According to PETA, other large grocery chains like Wegmans, Costco, Walgreens and Food Lion have already banned brands that use coconuts picked by monkeys.
8 On Your Side reached out to Publix for comment. A spokesperson sent us the following statement:
“We work with our suppliers, industry leaders, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations because we recognize our responsibility and take concerns about animal welfare seriously. In this case related to the Chaokoh brand products we carry, we have reviewed the third-party audit and affidavits from the coconut farmers stating that no monkeys are used to pick coconuts on the farms at issue. We have also received the written assurance sent from Thailand’s ambassador to the U.S. stating that the Thai Food Processors Association has confirmed that monkeys are not used in the commercial harvesting of coconuts.”
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