A local food firm has seen their business grow after basing their kitchen at Sheffield Hallam as a part of a unique partnership with the University’s catering team.
Dilesh and Jennifer Peiris, the couple behind vegan ready meal firm Vigour Vita, approached Sheffield Hallam in August 2019 to promote their products, in the hope that the University could sell their range to staff and students on campus.
The company specialises in producing plant-based ready meals and coconut products inspired by the cuisine of Sri Lanka where the pair are from.
Dilesh Peiris, co-founder of Vigour Vita said: “As ardent food lovers we were keen to pass on our passion for vegetables to our daughter who was growing up in an environment where more people are becoming aware of the importance of having a majority of plant based food items in their diet.
“Having been successful in getting our daughter to enjoy a variety of vegetables in interesting and tasty dishes, we wanted to share these with our friends who wholeheartedly encouraged us to share it further.”
Darren Procter, catering operations manager at Sheffield Hallam said: “We were so impressed with the food that Dilesh and Jennifer showed us that we thought we could work together to expand our vegan offering and help Vigour Vita grow as a business.”
“After initial discussions, it became clear that there was an opportunity to utilize space and resources at the University to provide a more stable base for the business and a chance to increase their output.”
Since moving into the kitchen in the University’s Stoddart building, the firm has begun supplying organic shops in Sheffield, Chatsworth House and the University of Sheffield as well as at catering outlets across the University.
Jennifer Peiris, who co-founded the business with Dilesh, said: “It’s already had a big impact. It gives us a space to try out new recipes and a base to expand but by supplying a university, it gives potential clients the knowledge that our products are of a high quality and delivered with a high quality of food safety and health and safety compliance.”
Sustainability and a drive to give back to the community are embedded into the company as Dilesh explains:
“We ensure that the fruits of the coconut and jackfruit tree are grown and harvested without damaging the trees in any way so that they can be used for future generations.
“We also share our profits with Salsevana Children’s Home in Sri Lanka which gives 25 young orphaned girls under the age of 18 care and support. We share our profits with the home so that the girls will be able to make their dreams a reality, despite coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.”