The chocolate maker teamed up with the University of Brussels to investigate the cocoa bean fermentation process. They were attempting to make production more efficient, improve product quality and learn about flavour, aroma and how these relate to processing techniques. Researchers discovered that fermentation quality is linked to lactic and acetic acid bacteria breaking down citric acid and sugars. The process by which the bacteria resisted acid and tolerated alcohol and heat impacted on the taste of the chocolate created. Barry Callebaut innovation manager Herwig Bernaert said: "Studying the microbiological and biochemical reactions that occur during the fermentation process of the cocoa bean helps to increase our knowledge. With these new findings we can further influence our entire chocolate-making process." Fermentation of cocoa beans takes around five to seven days, during which time the signature cocoa aroma develops. Scientists from the University of Brussels travelled to Ghana - the world's second largest cocoa growing region - to study the process as it occurs on plantations. Barry Callebaut has a significant presence in Ghana with its operations there processing around 60,000 tonnes. The company also owns facilities in Cameroon, Brazil and the Ivory Coast. Its quest to produce better quality chocolate will also impact on major confectionery company Hershey. Last month, the US manufacturer entered into a supply chain contract with Barry Callebaut whereby the latter will supply the former with at least 80,000 tonnes of chocolate and chocolate products each year. The two cocoa leaders also agreed to join forces in terms of research, development and market innovation. The findings from the University of Brussel's Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology in collaboration with Barry Callebaut will be published over the coming months in the scientific journals: 'Applied and Environmental Microbiology', 'International Journal of Food Microbiology' and the 'International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology'.