January 28/Hershey, Pa./Business Wire -- The Hershey Company announced that 18% of all the cocoa the company sourced globally in 2013 was certified, nearly double the company’s original 2013 goal of 10%. With nearly one-fifth of cocoa sourced through sustainable practices, Hershey is on track to meet its goal of sourcing 100% certified cocoa by 2020. The company’s next certification milestone is to reach between 40-50% of all cocoa purchased globally by 2016.

“We are proud of our substantial progress in our first year of this important initiative to advance the well-being of cocoa-producing communities,” said Terence O’Day, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer. “This is just one of many initiatives through local NGOs, national governments and development agencies to address child labor and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers around the world. These projects include leadership and economic training for women farmers, literacy, health and farm safety programs as well as the recent opening of a Hershey-supported primary school in western Ivory Coast.”

Hershey also announced today that its Scharffen Berger brand has reached its previously stated goal to source 100% of cocoa from certified farms by the end of 2013. All Scharffen Berger products now use cocoa that is 100% sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, joining both Hershey’s Bliss chocolates and Hershey’s Dagoba organic chocolate, which reached this milestone in 2012.

The certified cocoa used in Hershey products is verified by independent auditors who follow recognized international standards for labor, environmental and sustainable farming practices. Hershey is sourcing certified cocoa through three of the world’s largest and most recognized cocoa certifications: UTZ Certified, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

The announcement is part of Hershey’s ongoing commitment to support sustainable cocoa farming through its 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy. Hershey seeks to modernize cocoa farming for the two million farmers across West Africa with a particular focus on education. As a founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation, Hershey’s cocoa strategy is part of broader cocoa-industry efforts to improve family livelihoods and communities across the cocoa-growing sector worldwide.

“Our program’s focus is on educating cocoa farmers as well as the larger farm community, including school-aged children. Sustainable cocoa farming depends on teaching farmers about modern farming practices and appropriate social practices,” added O’Day. “Our 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy seeks to address many dimensions of farmer livelihoods, including productivity, improved incomes and labor practices. By 2020, we expect to source 100% certified cocoa and to see the opportunities for West African cocoa farmers significantly improved.”