Target (TGT) is the latest retailer to drop Chaokoh coconut milk from its stores over alleged monkey abuse, joining Costco, Wegmans, and several other retailers in banning the product.

The news that Target is eliminating the coconut milk brand from its stores comes as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) first claimed in a 2019 investigation that monkeys were being forced to pick coconuts from trees used to make Chaokoh coconut milk.

In its report, PETA said the young monkeys were held captive, chained, and abusively trained. It said many of the monkeys were illegally abducted from their families when they were babies and were fitted with "rigid metal collars," often being kept chained or tethered. Some had their teeth pulled out as they tried to defend themselves, PETA said.

The Thailand-based maker of Chaokoh coconut milk, Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd., previously denied using monkey labor to create its product.

In a statement to USA Today about its decision to stop selling Chaokoh coconut milk, Target said: “We believe in the humane treatment of animals and expect those who do business with us to do the same. We take seriously the claims made against Chaokoh, and given they were unable to sufficiently address the concerns raised, we made the decision to remove their product from our assortment in November 2020.”

Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president, said in a statement, “By dropping Chaokoh, Target is joining thousands of stores that refuse to profit from chained monkeys’ misery. PETA exposés have confirmed that Thai coconut producers are exploiting monkeys and lying about it, so there’s no excuse for any grocery store to keep Chaokoh on its shelves.”

PETA continues to make an effort to educate retailers on the use of monkey labor to produce coconut milk, requesting that they pull the product brands that support these practices from their store shelves.

In October 2020, Costco announced that it would no longer sell Chaokoh coconut at its warehouse stores. Wegmans made the same decision in November 2020.

PETA reports that Cost Plus World Market, Food Lion, H-E-B, Sears, ShopRite, Super King Markets, and Smart & Final have also since "changed their purchasing decisions after being informed of the cruelty behind Thai coconut products."

Shares of Target were trading at $190.38 as of 9:31 a.m. EST Tuesday, up $0.23 or 0.12%.

Target store Customers walk outside a Target store on Aug. 14, 2003, in Springfield, Virginia. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images