Hershey said it believes its purchasing commitment should “significantly” expand the global supply of certified cocoa

Hershey said it believes its purchasing commitment should “significantly” expand the global supply of certified cocoa

US confectioner Hershey has said it will source 100% certified cocoa for its global chocolate product line by 2020.

The commitment, announced today (4 October), will also see the group accelerate its programmes to help eliminate child labour in the cocoa regions of West Africa.

As the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, Hershey said it believes its purchasing commitment should "significantly" expand the global supply of certified cocoa, particularly from West Africa, which produces around 70% of the world's cocoa.

"Consistent with Hershey's values, we are directly addressing the economic and social issues that impact West Africa's two million cocoa farmers and families," said J.P. Bilbrey, president and CEO of Hershey Co. "Expanding the use of certified cocoa across our iconic chocolate brands while working with public and private partners, demonstrates Hershey's responsible sourcing practices. I am confident that we can make a substantial difference in West Africa by 2020."

Certified cocoa will be verified through independent auditors to assure that it is grown in line with the highest internationally recognised standards for labour, environmental and better farming practices, the company said.

It did not specify which certification scheme it will apply, but pointed to its announcement earlier this year that its Bliss chocolates would be Rainforest Alliance certified by the end of this year.