Publix Is Pulling This Popular Product From Shelves, Effective Immediately
The grocery chain is removing this item from stores nationwide.
If you live in the Southeast, you're probably very familiar with Publix. This grocery chain has amassed a cult following for its famous "Pub Sub," but Publix's well organized layout and friendly cashiers don't hurt either when it comes to choosing where you do your grocery shopping. But if you're looking to make a stop at this grocery store soon, make sure you've updated your shopping list to account for one item you won't find there. Publix just confirmed that it has pulled one popular product from its shelves following a major protest. Read on to find out what the company is removing from stores nationwide.
Publix is pulling one brand of coconut milk from its stores.
Publix just confirmed that it will be removing the coconut milk brand Chaokoh from its stores, according to a March 7 press announcement from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). According to the organization, the grocer agreed to pull the product after two undercover investigations by PETA Asia "revealed the use of chained and caged monkeys in Thailand's coconut-picking industry."
PETA had also led a "vigorous campaign" against the grocery chain that included billboards and fake "monkeys" dumping coconuts in front of Publix's corporate office, outside stores, and in front of its CEO's house. As a result, the company is ending the sale of this coconut milk from its more than 1,200 stores across the Southeast.
"A life as a chained-up coconut-picking machine is no life at all for a monkey, who needs to play, eat, and explore with family members," Tracy Reiman, PETA's executive vice president said in a statement. "Since PETA exposés have confirmed cover-ups of cruelty on coconut farms, no company with a conscience can keep supporting Chaokoh, and Publix should be commended for taking action to help monkeys."
The grocery chain had originally denied the organization's request.
PETA has been on Publix for some time now, and initially the grocery chain refused to remove Chaokoh's coconut milk from stores. In Feb. 2021, Publix told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that it would not be pulling the company's products after it had reviewed third-party audits and been assured by Thailand officials that monkey were not being used or harmed in the process.
"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," Maria Brous, Publix's director of communications, told the newspaper at the time. "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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PETA maintains that Chaokoh is using forced monkey labor.
According to PETA, its investigators in Asia visited eight farms in 2019 where monkeys were being forced to pick coconuts—including one farm being used by the coconut milk producer Chaokoh. Then in 2020, the investigators reportedly returned following assurances from the Thai government and coconut industry that monkeys were no longer being used for exported products. PETA said that its second investigation found that producers were still using monkey labor, and industry insiders revealed that farms allegedly "conceal this practice by simply hiding monkeys until auditors leave or by hiring contractors to bring in monkeys only during harvest time."
"Many kind people choose coconut milk instead of cow's milk because they don't want to support cruelty to animals. But a disturbing PETA Asia investigation reveals that terrified young monkeys in Thailand are 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 organization alleges.
PETA has also gotten other companies to remove Chaokoh coconut milk from stores.
Publix is not the only retailer that has pulled Chaokoh's coconut milk from shelves following protests from PETA. In June 2021, Kroger responded to the organization's efforts and suspended its purchases of this product. And in May of that year, Raley's supermarket joined other grocers in dropping Chaokoh. According to PETA, more than 33,000 stores so far have ended deals with "coconut milk brands that use coconuts picked by monkeys," including Albertsons, Costco, Wegmans, Target, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop.
But not every major retailer has cut ties with Chaokoh. "PETA is now turning its attention to other retailers that still do business with Chaokoh, including Walmart and 99 Ranch Market," the organization said in its most recent announcement.