Are Coconuts Vegan – An Investigation

After publishing my most recent article, “Are Coconuts Vegan?”, I wanted to get a better idea of which brands were sourcing their coconuts from reputable suppliers.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any definitive results for brands in Australia, so I decided I would contact these companies myself.  Here is a list of the companies I emailed, and the response that I received.

Please can you confirm where your coconuts are sourced from, and whether or not your suppliers employ the use of monkeys in their harvesting or production process?


I can confirm that we do not use monkeys (or child labour) when harvesting our coconuts.

Our coconuts are removed by hand using skilled locals (manually). The workers will usually use a sharp blade with a long bamboo shaft when removing the coconuts from the tree.

I can confirm that our coconuts are currently sourced from plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Our coconuts have been sourced from these plantations for many years now which are regularly visited and assessed by our Quality Assurance team in terms of coconut quality and harvesting process.

Furthermore, we are pleased to inform you that Ayam™ will be joining the United Nations Global Compact program this year. It is a pledge of commitment to develop and maintain a sustainable business model.

This model includes topics such as:

– Establishing and maintaining a sustainable supply chain
– Social justice: joining the fight against slavery and human trafficking.
– AYAM will refuse to have working relationships with any supplier suspected of using child labour, illegal wages, poor social conditions or the harm or abuse of animals
– Enforcing governance for fighting corruption and being transparent with stakeholder inquiries
– Improving our carbon footprint, reducing waste and pollution

Our coconuts are sourced from Indonesia and Thailand.

You will be pleased to know that our coconuts are hand harvested by humans. Using animals or unfair manufacturing practices goes against our ethos.

Coles homebrand
Our coconuts are sourced from Thailand, Samoa, Tonga and Australia. Our suppliers employ workers to harvest their crop using long poles with a blade at the top to cut down bunches of coconuts at a time.

Coles cares passionately about animal welfare and our growers have been checked and audited by our own quality team as well as independent auditors, who have found no evidence that animals are used by our coconut suppliers.

Honest to Goodness
Our coconuts are sourced from Sri Lanka. We have received confirmation from our supplier that no monkeys are used in any way for the harvesting of their coconuts.

Coconut Oil comes as both refined and unrefined.  We source our coconut oil from both the Philippines and South Pacific Islands (Premium brand processed by the islanders).  The coconut oil from the Philipines is from plantations and that from the South Pacific Islands from those on the islands.

Our coconuts are sourced from both Thailand and Sri Lanka. Confirming that our suppliers do NOT employ the use of monkeys in their harvesting or production process.

The plantations are regularly visited by our CEO.

I have attached a snippet of an article we posted on our facebook page back in October 23, 2015.  As explained there are no monkeys to harvest our coconuts in Fiji nor in Sri Lanka.

As a small Australian owned company we appreciate your interest and concern about the nature of our ingredients.
Nuttelex with Coconut Oil, as with all our Nuttelex spreads, is made with the best quality allergen free, vegan, sustainable & GM free ingredients.
The coconut oil we use comes from a number of places in the Pacific – depending on the time of the year it can come from Fiji or Malaysia. Unlike palm oil however, there is not as yet a certification body in existence that is able to certify coconut oils as sustainably harvested.
We certainly would not use any ingredients that used animals in such an abhorrent way or harmed an animal in any way. (From our own research into this matter, using monkeys to pick coconuts occurs in India and Thailand).
As Australia’s oldest vegetarian and vegan spread we select our ingredients very carefully, always, and do out absolute best to ensure we work with only RSPO, GM FREE, sustainable  and cruelty free certified suppliers.
Nuttelex with Coconut Oil is different to our regular Nuttelex products in taste, texture and ingredients, and is our only spread made with coconut oil. In fact it may interest you to know that we specifically created this product because many of our loyal Nuttelex customers have asked us for a palm oil free product and we wanted to deliver it. Although it has meant years of R & D and essentially creating an entirely new type of product based on different processes and ingredients from our existing Nuttelex spreads.
The result, is the world’s first 100% palm-free (including emulsifiers) table spread, enriched with the goodness of coconut oil.
We hope “Nuttelex with Coconut Oil No Palm Oil” is supported because as a small family owned business, we have devoted an incredible amount of  R + D and time  into getting it  “just right” – for everyone.


Pure Harvest
Thank you for your enquiry about the coconut milk. Our suppliers do not use monkeys to harvest the coconuts.

Rebel Kitchen
I can confirm that Rebel Kitchen does not use coconuts that are harvested by monkeys.

We take great care in sourcing ethical ingredients and therefore we do not support these unethical practices at all.

We source our coconut from the Philippines and no monkeys are used in the harvesting or production process of the products.

So Delicious
As a company that proudly makes certified vegan foods and beverages, we operate with a guiding pillar that everything we do must be “So Kind” – so kind to people, animals and the planet. We do not use monkeys to harvest our coconuts, and we also prohibit the use of forced, indentured, or child labor in our supply chain. In fact, our team recently went to visit our farmers in Southeast Asia to see them on the job and get to know them over a freshly cut coconut. We put together a little video that showcases the sustainable way in which they farm and conduct their work.

Spiral foods
There are no monkeys used in the manufacture or picking/processing of our coconut products.

Please be advised that our coconut cream is sourced from Indonesia and the Philippines. We can confirm that monkeys are not used in the harvesting process.

ZICO coconuts are hand harvested from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. We like to mix it up to ensure we get what we think are the freshest, best-tasting coconuts in the world. You can always check the label on your package to see where yours came from.

We use a process called Ultra High Temperature Pasteurization to ensure the safety of the product.


Absolute Organic
Aldi homebrand
Australia’s Own Organic
Blue Diamond / Almond Breeze
IGA homebrand
Woolworths home brand

For the sake of transparency, I contacted the above companies on Thursday 31st March 2016.

After watching the video about monkey slave labour, which interestingly has now been made private, I was very alarmed that the products I was consuming may not have been entirely cruelty-free.  The video implied that 99% of coconut products from Thailand involve monkey slave labour and cruelty.  I’m in no way denying that this kind of cruelty exists, but based on the responses I’ve received so far, I don’t think it’s a cause for panic in the vegan community.  Firstly, a lot of the above companies don’t source their coconuts from Thailand, and secondly, those who do, confirm that monkeys are not used.

This has been a reminder for me that everything needs questioning.  A shocking video about animal cruelty does not necessarily mean all products are tainted.  Nor should it be ignored.  It means that facts need to be established so that I, as a consumer, can make an informed decision about buying cruelty-free products.

I hope that others will find the above list and responses helpful.  I will update this post accordingly if and when the outstanding companies contact me with a response.  Also, if anyone has any additional companies they would like me to contact, please do leave a comment or email us, and I’ll get in touch with them, and post the results.


One comment

  1. Kishka Cat · · Reply

    I don’t fully trust the answers. I think sometimes the manufacturers themselves will be told untruths. My friend recently in Indonesia, spent time with local people and they say it’s the way it’s been done for ever, and it’s everywhere. Also… after reading this… I don’t want to take any chances 😦


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