Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, has co-founded PLEZi Nutrition, a new company that aims to make and sell healthier food and drinks for kids. Obama hopes that the products will be less harmful to children’s long-term health due to their lower sugar and higher nutrient content. PLEZi Nutrition is an extension of her efforts to improve child nutrition when she was in the White House.
In a keynote address at a conference on the future sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, Obama emphasized the need for change from within the food and beverage industry itself. She called for a race to the top to transform the entire industry, saying that providing better products is not enough.
PLEZi Nutrition’s first product is a fruity drink with no added sugar and only 35 calories, which is already available at a limited number of Target and Sprouts stores across the U.S. The company plans to introduce snacks and other products in the coming years.
As First Lady, Obama led the Let’s Move initiative to promote exercising and healthy eating from a young age. However, she faced obstacles in bringing real change to children’s nutrition, even while at the White House.
PLEZi Nutrition is a public benefit corporation, meaning that the for-profit company was created specifically for the public’s benefit and will balance its profit needs with its mission to help improve child nutrition. The company is donating $1 million to an initiative by FoodCorps, a nonprofit organization that is working to help all 50 million students in the U.S. receive education about nutrition and free school meals by 2030. PLEZi Nutrition will also contribute 10 percent of its profits to the broader to improve child nutrition.
Obama hopes that PLEZi Nutrition will be an ally that parents can trust and that it will be a huge part of creating a healthier generation for all children. She wants other companies to know that PLEZi is coming and she hopes to challenge all companies to do better than them. “Out-innovate us,” Obama said. “That’s the scale of change I’m hoping to spur.”