hershey cocoa farmer
Photo provided by Hershey.

Every Hershey’s chocolate bar and Reese’s peanut butter cup will eventually carry the guarantee that it was made with 100% certified cocoa.  

The Hershey Co. today announced plans to use only 100% certified cocoa by 2020, and also said it will accelerate its programs to help eliminate child labor in the cocoa regions of West Africa.

The announcement comes after Hershey has spent the last few months as the target of the “Raise the Bar, Hershey Coalition,” which has attempted to highlight allegedly poor working conditions for cocoa farmers that supply Hershey

The certified cocoa will be verified through independent auditors to assure that it is grown in line with the highest internationally recognized standards for labor, environmental and better farming practices.

As Hershey increases its use of certified cocoa, the company will also continue to support community-based programs such as village school construction, mobile phone farmer messaging, literacy and health programs and training in modern farming techniques.

The path to using only 100% certified cocoa won’t be easy though. Currently, certified cocoa accounts for less than 5% of the world’s cocoa supply.

The company, which is the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, hopes its new commitment will expand the global supply, particularly from West Africa, which produces about 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,” says J.P. Bilbrey, Hershey’s president and ceo. “I am confident that we can make a substantial difference in West Africa by 2020.”

As for the immediate future, Hershey already is working to make some of its brands with 100% certified cocoa.

Today, they announced that its Scharffen Berger brand will source 100% certified cocoa by the end of 2013.

And, earlier this year, the company announced that Hershey’s Bliss chocolates will be Rainforest Alliance-certified and available to consumers by year end.  

Meanwhile, Hershey’s Dagoba organic chocolate already is currently 100% Rainforest Alliance certified.  

For more information about Hershey's cocoa sustainability programs in West Africa, visit: www.HersheyCocoaSustainability.com.