Pa. to expand exports; Hershey to use certified cocoa

| Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Hershey vows to use certified cocoa

Candy maker Hershey is vowing to use only certified cocoa for all of its chocolate products by 2020 and accelerate programs to help eliminate child labor in the cocoa regions of West Africa. The central Pennsylvania company says certified cocoa will be verified through independent auditors to assure that the highest labor, environmental and farming practices are used. The company also vowed to keep supporting community development programs such as village school construction and literacy and health programs. Hershey has come under fire recently from activists who said it was the only major chocolate producer that had not committed to using certified cocoa. The company says certified cocoa accounts for less than 5 percent of the world's supply, but its action should “significantly expand” that.

Pa. to get $2.35M to expand exports

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development said Wednesday that it will receive a $2.35 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support the state's export assistance program. The so-called State Trade and Export Promotion grant is meant to increase the number of small businesses exporting, as well as the value of exports current businesses are shipping abroad. In the state's fiscal year ended in June, the department reported its Center for Trade Development assisted 284 businesses which logged more than $831 million in sales of goods and services abroad. That represented a $300 million increase from the previous year and supported the creation of 6,897 jobs, said the department.

dck worldwide acquires Ariz. firm

Pittsburgh-based dck worldwide is extending its construction operations into the southwest United States with the acquisition of Summit Builders of Phoenix. The price was not disclosed. Summit, which will be renamed Summit dck, generated annual revenue of $180 million in the last 12 months. “We are excited to have the opportunity to acquire a well-respected, client-focused, quality organization such as Summit Builders,” said dck CEO Stephen D'Angelo.

Survey: Businesses added 162K jobs

A private survey shows that U.S. businesses added fewer workers in September than August, a sign that slow growth may be holding back hiring. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 162,000 jobs last month. That's below August's total of 189,000, which was revised lower. The September increase was better than economists had expected. And it marks the latest in a string of modest hiring gains reported by the survey in recent months. The report covers hiring only in the private sector and excludes government employment.

Burkle, KKR, TPG eye Supervalu

Supervalu Inc., the grocery chain that's examining strategic options, has attracted interest from billionaire Ronald Burkle and buyout firms KKR & Co. and TPG Capital, said people with knowledge of the matter. Burkle, the majority owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the private equity firms are looking at parts of Supervalu rather than the whole. Cerberus Capital Management LP also has looked at some of Supervalu's assets, said one person. Supervalu would prefer a deal for the entire company and has extended its offer deadline past Oct. 15, the people said. The third-largest U.S. grocery store chain supplies Shop ‘n Save, Foodland, Kuhns in Western Pennsylvania and has a distribution center in New Stanton, Westmoreland County.

Other business news

• US Airways filled 84.4 percent of its passenger seats in September, higher than any September in the past, the carrier said Wednesday. The rate above the 83.6 percentage of seats filled in September 2011. Total passengers grew 1.4 percent to more than 4.16 million from less than 4.11 million the year earlier.

• The American Advertising Federation's Pittsburgh chapter said it hired Nancy Richert as its executive director. She will replace Joyce Perhac, who is completing her four-year term with the AdFed. Richert previously was a producer for the Downtown-based production studio Animal; she also has an independent consulting business.

— From staff and wire reports

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