Textured vegetable protein: all about appearance
It makes for a great visual effect in canned foods
Textured vegetable protein (TVP), the meat extender we loved to ridicule in our school lunches, may be more prevalent in petfood than many realize. It isn't being used to stretch the meat budget or even to supplement meat protein. Instead, the most common application for TVP in petfoods is cosmetic. It makes for a great visual effect in canned foods, making them look more like real meat.
It's not a cost-cutting matter. As it turns out, in a wet petfood application, a TVP "meat piece" does a better job of distinguishing itself as a "meat chunk" than an actual chunk of chopped or reformed meat. The reason for this is because TVP retains its shape, coloration and distinct outline during retort. So, one can discern with just a glance that there is a real difference between this virtual meat chunk and its surroundings. It is especially true for the chunk in loaf product formats in which a meat piece is embedded in a meatloaf or patÃ©.
So, it appears that petfood isn't solely about nutrition. It does have its shallower side in which appearance matters. While this might give purists indigestion, the application of TVP chicken-analog pieces in a loaf product or beef-analog pieces in a lighter colored chicken based meatloaf is pretty popular in the canned dog food market. The technology is also deployed in numerous overseas markets without shame.
While it may be assumed that…