Vegan football club owner opens factory

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Dale Vince (centre): ‘Our products are simple – just great food made from vegetables for kids’
Dale Vince (centre): ‘Our products are simple – just great food made from vegetables for kids’
The entrepreneur behind the world’s first vegan football club has opened a plant-based food business to tap into the £1bn-plus UK school dinners market.

Dale Vince, chairman and majority shareholder of Forest Green Rovers, said Devil’s Kitchen would specifically target schools and colleges with a range of vegetable balls and burgers.

The 100% plant-based Little Green Devils range is made with legumes, fruits, herbs and spices, and is free of the 14 major food allergens. The range is also free of palm oil and monosodium glutamate.

Devil’s Kitchen will use experience gained from catering to football fans at Forest Green, a League Two side in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.

Its new purpose-built factory, located close to the ground, can produce 125,000 units every week – with the first order of 50,000 burgers being delivered to a London council later this month. 

Vince, who is also owner of green energy supplier Ecotricity, said the response to the food business had so far been “incredible”​.

‘Significant interest’

He claimed Little Green Devils was the first savoury vegan product in Britain to be made specifically for the school market. Vince added that the company had already received “significant interest”​ in products from caterers and wholesalers, which between them served meals in around 8,000 UK schools.

The products have been road-tested with some of the largest school caterers in the UK to ensure they stood up to the demands of being the central protein source in a school dinner, Vince explained.

“Our products are simple – just great food made from vegetables for kids – a really good thing,”​ he said “We hope to get the Little Green Devils range into as many schools and colleges as possible.

“Before production has begun, we’ve received unexpected interest from university caterers and public attractions who want to take our products.

“I reckon we’ll complete the full circle and sell our burgers to other football clubs and other sporting venues too – who want to offer vegan food like Forest Green Rovers.”

Powered by Ecotricity

The Devil’s Kitchen factory is powered by Ecotricity and the packaging for its products comprise a cardboard outer and with a compostable liner and label.

It was conceived following a speculative email last year to Vince from Barry Jordan – a food industry specialist with 15 years of experience in sales, marketing and product innovation. Jordan is now the factory’s general manager.

Forest Green was recently named “the world’s greenest football club”​ by footballing world body, FIFA and “the de-facto standard for sustainability in sport”​ by the United Nations, after it certified the club carbon neutral.

It became the world’s first vegan football club in 2016, after receiving accreditation from the Vegan Society. It went meat-free in 2011.

The football club runs Fit2Last sessions – an interactive educational programme delivered to schools and the local community.

The sessions include information on a vegan diet, healthy eating and making matchday food, to help young people get a better understanding of the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.

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