The MonaVie Juice Scam

I try not to use the word “scam” lightly. After all, value is often determined by the buyer along with the seller, and if someone wishes to spend $35 on a bottle of juice, then it’s not up to me to stop them.

Not to mention the fact that there are about 10,000 copies of a book out there that contains anecdotal evidence of me spending over $200 on two bottles of whiskey. So, yeah. To each their own.

With all of that being said, I can’t help but feel a little skeevy looking at products from MonaVie.

“What is MonaVie?”, some of you are asking. This is a good question. On the surface, they are little more than a Tupperware party that sells juice instead of plastic containers. That the suggested price of these bottles of juice run between $25 to $35 dollars for 24 ounces makes them a little more interesting to me.

What do these drinks provide in order for them to suggest such high numbers? From their website –

From powerful antioxidant support to joint, heart, and immune health, MonaVie’s body-beneficial products provide the nutrition you need for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Delivering a wide array of antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients, as well as other beneficial ingredients like Wellmune®, plant-derived glucosamine, and plant sterols, every serving is guaranteed to be as efficacious as it is delicious.

In other words, they’re supposed to be healthy. So healthy in fact, that it is suggested that the consumer of these juices should only drink 2 oz. at a time, twice a day (once in the morning, once in the evening). After all, one wouldn’t want to drink too much health.

Moving beyond their market-speak, a quick look at the label of one of their products reveals what’s within:

Proprietary blend of acai (freeze-dried powder and acai puree); fruit juice from concentrate (white grape, nashi pear, acerola, aronia, purple grape, cranberry, passion fruit, apricot, prune, kiwi, blueberry, wolfberry, pomegranate, lychee, camu camu); fruit puree (pear, banana, bilberry); citric acid, natural flavor, sodium benzoate (preservative), potassium sorbate (preservative).

And what are the benefits from this? Well, if the label is to be believed – 25% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, 12 of the RDA for Vitamin K, and 2% of Iron.

For a point of comparison, here’s the ingredient list of a juice I drink often –

Purified Water, Organic Raspberry juice from concentrate, Organic Strawberry juice from concentrate, Citric Acid, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Vitamin b-3, Zinc, Sucralose, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin b-12

The benefits here? Well, take a look at the label yourself.

Granted, a great majority of the vitamins in the drink are water soluble, and won’t last in anyone’s system all that long and need to be replaced daily. Those are the 8 B vitamins and vitamin C.

Let me make it clear. I’m not saying that the juice I drink is healthy. I’m only suggesting that it is healthier than MonaVie.

Oh, and by the way? The cost for the juice drink above? $1.59. A far cry from the $35 that consumers of MonaVie are paying.

If you find my view suspect, let me quote Dr. Andrew Weil:

MonaVie is an expensive way to get your antioxidants – it sells for about $40 for a 25.3 ounce bottle. That works out to $4 to $6 per day if you use it as directed. While it is probably safe, I recommend sticking closer to home for your protective phytonutrients. Opt for organically grown blueberries, which are more available, much less expensive, and give you fiber as well as plenty of antioxidant activity. And don’t forget black raspberries and pomegranates, both of which have health benefits for which there is good scientific evidence.

As for the glucosamine in some MonaVie products, there are less expensive ways to get that, too. If you have osteoarthritis, I think glucosamine is worth trying, and it may help restore damaged cartilage in joints. But buy a good brand of it and use the recommended dosage for a trial period – two months, say – to see if it helps. If you do not have osteoarthritis, you do not need glucosamine, nor do children need it.

So if MonaVie isn’t actually selling a healthy drink, then what are they selling? Forbes Magazine lets us in on MonaVie’s secret:

In the distributional art form known euphemistically as “multilevel marketing” and more crassly as a pyramid, a seller attempts to recruit other sellers, who recruit still others, and so on. Members get a percentage of revenues hauled in at some or all points below them in the pyramid, so those close to the top can do very well for themselves. The Direct Selling Association, a trade group, pegs the collective revenues of multilevel vendors at $30 billion in the U.S. and $111 billion worldwide. Exotic juices, nutritional supplements and cosmetics are among the favorites of the pyramid crowd.

Team is one step ahead of all these juice selling schemes. It is a pyramid atop a pyramid. It is selling motivational aids to help MonaVie vendors move the juice. But wait. If you can’t earn back the $258 you’ve spent on the motivational lectures by selling $39 juice bottles, you could earn it back in another way–getting people to buy $258 motivational lectures. If you’re good, you flog the lectures to other people, who sell them to yet others. Everybody gets rich. Everybody, that is, except the last round of buyers. That’s the theory, anyway. The reality is that a mere 1% of Team members make any money from involvement with the firm.

In other words, it’s a pyramid scheme. It’s fruit juice in superior packaging. It’s very likely a scam designed to make their president, one Mr. Dallin Larsen, wealthy.