Make Better Food. You Might Save Millions. Plus, Investment In Women-Led Brands Is Shrinking. Why?

+ Dr. Robert Lustig


Sometimes you just need to tell it like it is. Dr. Robert Lustig has no problem with that approach, especially if it will save lives.

A professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Lustig is a leading public health authority who has lectured and written extensively about how sugar and ultra-processed food have fueled a surge in chronic diseases. His work spans 40 years of clinical research focused on childhood obesity, diabetes and other issues that lead to metabolic disease.

The keynote speaker at Manna Tree’s second annual Global Health Forum, Dr. Lustig pulled no punches when discussing how decades of overconsumption and poor quality food are root causes of chronic illness and an American healthcare system strained by a perpetually sick population. While the problems seem overwhelming, Dr. Lustig noted the role that innovative food and beverage companies can play in effecting change, a topic he discussed at length in this episode. 

Following Dr. Lustig’s interview is the latest installment of The Maxi Minutes, with Maxine Kozler Kover, the co-founder and managing director of Los Angeles-based investment firm LDR Ventures. In this edition, Koven spoke about how angel investors evaluate emerging brands that play in trendy categories and also discussed the sustained lack of investment in female-owned CPG brands, the reasons behind it and ways for the industry to collectively address the problem.

In this Episode

1:54: Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics – Division of Endocrinology, UCSF – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Dr. Lustig’s about his straightforward style, why he describes common widespread diseases as “symptoms” of disease and shared advice on how to discuss complex issues about food and its effects on health with others. He also explained how the food industry “educates consumers every day,” why he compared kids’ consumption of fructose to that of adults and alcohol and his view that the USDA has conflicting roles and responsibilities. Later, he explained why the food system needs to be reengineered to “work for us and not against us,” the nine words that he uses to describe healthy food and why brands should incorporate them into their innovation strategies, and his assessment of alternative sweeteners.
32:01: The Maxi Minutes Season 2, Ep. 2 – Koven chatted about her plans for Expo West before discussing the rise of non-alcoholic wine, cocktails and other adult beverage analogs, and how she evaluates brands that can become “winners” in their respective categories. She also discussed the disparity of venture capital in women-founded tech companies versus those in the food and beverage industry, why male founders receive greater mentorship and executive training than female counterparts and how it affects funding decisions and why she believes that many investment firms have a perception issue among female founders. 

Also Mentioned

Coca-Cola, Pepsico