HelloFresh Says It Will Stop Using Coconut Milk From Thailand After Concerns About Coconut-Picking Monkeys

It's extremely common for trained monkeys to pick coconuts in Thailand, but animal rights group PETA raised the alarm about what it called "rampant monkey abuse."

learn more about Gabrielle Bienasz

By Gabrielle Bienasz

MADAREE TOHLALA / Contributor I Getty Images
Macaque monkey picking coconuts in Thailand in July 2020.

Whether or not coconuts picked by monkeys constitute animal abuse is back in the headlines.

HelloFresh, a meal kit company based in Berlin with a significant presence in the U.S., told Axios it would stop sourcing coconut milk from Thailand, the outlet reported Monday. The non-profit advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is known for out-of-the-box advertising including naked ad campaigns advocating for animal rights, has been campaigning to raise awareness about what it has called "rampant monkey abuse."

PETA said in a press release it and its supporters have sent "nearly 100,000 e-mails," and that it campaigned for months to get HelloFresh to stop obtaining coconut milk in the country.

"We do not tolerate any form of animal abuse in our supply chain," HelloFresh told the outlet. "Out of an abundance of caution we will not be placing orders for coconut milk from Thailand," HelloFresh added.

Monkeys, particularly pigtailed macaques, have been picking coconuts in Thailand for some 400 years, NPR reported in 2015. Monkeys can pick coconuts more quickly than humans can, the outlet added.

PETA said that visited eight farms in 2019 where monkeys pick coconuts and "documented that these sensitive animals were abused and exploited," and it published these results in the summer of 2020.

PETA claimed in photos, videos, and text, that some monkeys are taken from the wild and from their families, forced to live in unpleasant conditions, and face maltreatment from farmers.

Still, about 80% of the market for coconut milk in the U.S. comes from Thailand, Axios reported, citing data it obtained from the Office of Agricultural Affairs at the Royal Thai Embassy.

"It would be difficult to find a coconut product made in Thailand that wasn't picked by a monkey," Arjen Schroevers, who runs a monkey training school in Thailand called The First Monkey School, told NPR in 2015.

Schroevers criticized PETA's conclusions in a 2020 post on the school's website, saying that PETA is a "militant vegan organization" that fights harder for media attention than animal rights and that some of their claims, such as that it's cruel to transport monkeys in cages, were not accurate.

"That is the safest and easiest way to transport a monkey," he wrote.

HelloFresh had over 3 million active customers in the U.S. as of the fourth quarter of 2022, per its most recently reported financial results.

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business Solutions

This Comprehensive Microsoft Excel Course Can Turn You into a Whiz for $10

Master Microsoft Excel for less than the cost of your lunch with this top-rated course.

Growing a Business

5 Tips That Can Help You Seize Every Opportunity Your Next Industry Conference Has to Offer

Discover five ways to make the most out of the marketing, networking and personal and professional development opportunities a professional conference affords you.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.