Michelle Obama's Kid Drink, PLEZi

The Lempert Report
May 09, 2023

Michelle Obama, who we worked with on Chef's Move Back to School program, has decided to get into the food business, last week at the Wall Street Journal food symposium. Actually it was the Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival in New York. I'm here today because I still believe that businesses can and must move faster when it comes to our kids' health and nutrition. The product, and we'll talk about that in a second, is already in Target, Sprouts and Walmart online. It's called PLEZi. It is a beverage company. So Sally, what do you think about this? Is this a good idea for Michelle Obama? 

Sally: Phil, I think it's a wonderful idea. She was really wonderful in getting the Let's Move Campaign started when she was the First Lady. And so she has always been a champion for nutrition, particularly when it comes to our youth. Now, we have one in five children right now in the US, that's age two to18 that are obese, and those numbers are rising. It's really a frightening time for childhood nutrition. And soda and sugary drinks we have always heard are a big offender for obesity and particularly with children. And so it's really great to see her introduce a beverage like this. It only has six grams of sugar. It does use Stevia as a sweetener. Has 75% less sugar than many of the others we see in the supermarket that are of its kind. And it comes at a pretty fair price as well. 

Phil: Yeah, it's under a bucket bottle. Also, Sam Cass, her partner in the Let's Move program is a partner at Acre Ventures Partners. He's also the board chair of PLEZi. He's been involved every step of the way. So my feeling is that one of the things they're gonna try to do is to get this as part of the school lunch program, which would be really smart to do. But also to be honest with you, and I agree with you, I think this is terrific. I think having her leading up a food program and this beverage is just the first product. They anticipate going into snacks pretty soon as well, but they've also had some social media pushback. So no matter how good you try to be, you're giving 10% back to charity. It's fairly priced and so on. 

Phil: They're coming under criticism because they're packaged in single use plastic bottles that they're also using non-nutritive sweeteners, Stevia and Monkfruit, and that "it's processed." But I agree with you. I think that it's a fabulous effort on their behalf. You talked about the stats of why we need this so often so much. And also what I really like of what Michelle Obama said is that the drinks are not only intended to be less sweet, but they're helping train kids to enjoy less sweet drinks. And that's something that you and I have talked about for years, that we really have to change our taste buds away from this heavily sugar, salt, fat profile that makes us really satisfied into understanding what foods are supposed to taste like.