Nestle’s KitKat announced that it will use only sustainably-sourced cocoa to manufacture all of its chocolate by the first quarter of 2016.
The move, unveiled on Monday, means the brand will become the world’s first candy maker to produce its entire product line with cocoa accredited by third party agencies to assure that it hasn't been harvested by child laborers.
The chocolate industry has been facing increasing criticism over allegations of unfair labor practices, including the use of child labor, to harvest cocao, the fruit from the cocoa tree used to make chocolate, reports Bloomberg. In addition, world supplies of cocao have been dwindling.
KitKat already uses sustainably sourced cocoa sold in select markets, but the latest pledge will apply to chocolate products across the entire brand in all global markets, including the U.S. where products are produced and licensed under Hershey. The move is part of Nestlé's initiative to source 150,000 tons of sustainable cocoa by 2017.
“Sustainable cocoa sourcing helps safeguard the livelihoods of farming communities and delivers higher quality cocoa beans. This announcement will only strengthen consumer trust in KitKat as a responsible brand,” Head of Confectionery for Nestlé Sandra Martinez said in a statement.
In February, Nestle also pledged to eliminate artificial flavors and colors from all chocolate candy products by the end of this year.
Major chocolate brands have faced mounting criticism in the past over the use of child labor in production. According to a 2014 report released by the Fair Labor Association, random visits to 200 cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, from which Nestle buys chocolate, found four children under the age of 15 working in fields.
KitKat's announcement has been met with support and excitement on social media:
— Bright Little Labs (@blittlelabs) September 1, 2015
— Ceri Jane Davies (@cezzahbee) August 31, 2015
— Daan de Vries (@VriesDaan) August 31, 2015