Hershey pledges to end child slave labor in its cocoa production by 2020

American chocolate company Hershey has promised to source 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020 in response to mounting pressure over the widespread use of child slave labor in the cocoa industry.

Hershey is the latest company to make such a pledge, joining a growing band of chocolate brands to commit to making ethical confectionery. Mars made the same target announcement in 2009, while Ferrero made similar claims, points out industry publication ConfectioneryNews.com.

Certified cocoa will be verified through independent auditors who will make sure the production aligns with internationally recognized standards for labor, environmental and better farming practices, says the Pennsylvania-based company.

Currently, certified cocoa accounts for less than five percent of the world’s cocoa supply.

Mars Inc. was the first to make such a promise in 2009 and claims it will become the largest buyer of certified cocoa in the world. Independent auditors include Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Good Health.

Italian company Ferrero likewise promised transparency and a move to end child slave labor by the same date, 2020.

Meanwhile, Nestlé sourced 6 percent of their global cocoa supply via its own internally-designed Nestlé Cocoa Plan in 2011 which hinges on sustainability.

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