Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) may be defined as a product that results from the acid, alkaline, or enzymatic hydrolysis of a proteinaceous substrate. More practically, however, it is characterized as a versatile flavoring agent that is capable of suggesting or enhancing a characteristic savory flavor.
HVP, also known as hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), or generically as hydrolyzed protein (HP) since non-vegetable sources such as casein may be hydrolyzed, probably had a serendipitous origin in the Far East. The countries of China, Indonesia and Japan used fermentation processes for food presentation and eventually for flavor modification. It has even heen speculated that microbially contaminated spices may have contributed to novel but desirable flavor development in not only fish and meat but also cereals and legumes.
At the turn of the twentieth century, in an attempt to accelerate soya sauce production, which incidentally, could take up to three years, the Japanese began to study the feasibility of chemical methods such as acid hydrolysis. In 1912, four years after Ikeda discovered the flavor signiflcance of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in HVP, he was granted several patents describing the production of HVP. HVP then became a relatively abundant and economical source of MSG.