Juice Generation founder Eric Helms forecasts what we'll be drinking, eating and talking about next.
Monday, October 29, 2012 | Q Editors
Eric Helms knows a good thing when he sees it. Exhibit A: About two years ago the Juice Generation founder came across a drink in a southern California Whole Foods. Its main ingredient, pitaya, a nutritionally rich dragon fruit, was unknown to him. He loved the flavor, did some research and concluded that it could be The Next Big Thing. And just like that, it was.
To be fair, Helms had a hand in pitaya's ascent. After that first sip, "I learned as much as I could about pitaya and thought it could fit well in the direction that we're going at Juice Generation," says Helms. So he emailed the juice company and soon found himself on the phone with the owner. "I said, 'What are the possibilities? Can we just get the raw pulp? Can it be certified organic? What if we buy the whole crop?' He is a small business owner and I am a small business owner, so it was a good fit for us both," he explains. Fast forward and Helms had bought out the crops of 100 small farms in Nicaragua, and was introducing the low-sugar, fiber-rich fruit to American juicers via his Pink Pitaya smoothie last summer.
Helms's passion for pitaya got us curious about what this innovator see as The Next Next Big Thing. Here, he forecasts three trends on the brink:
1 The (even greater) proliferation of gluten-free
If you think you're living in a G-Free world now, just sit tight. Mainly because, as Helms has observed, the audience is multiplying. "Quite simply, people who don't need to eat gluten-free, want to eat gluten-free. People are more attuned and they want to cut out wheat because they think it's a healthy lifestyle choice." Helms is so convinced that he has overhauled his entire bakery line, replacing it with an all gluten-free selection of muffins, brownies and cookies.
2 Warm blended drinks
Juicing is getting hotter — literally. The next iteration of this estimated 3.5 billion dollar a year industry? Warm drinks with the power to heal in colder months. For Helms, who is launching restorative, ginger-spiked drinks as part of his new Juice Farmacy line, it was a logical step. "In our Hells Kitchen location, our primary customer base is actors, dancers and singers from Broadway," he explains. "These people depend on their bodies and their voices, so we did this for them. And then it caught on."
3 The modified cleanse
"Today everyone knows about cleansing, and there's a natural curiosity, but many people think 'I could never go five days without food,'" says Helms. Which is why, he believes, the future is about the one-day overhaul. Simple and accessible, it satisfies the regular cleanser who wants some occasional maintenance, as well as the first-timer who isn't ready to commit to three, five or seven days, but wants in on the digestion-aiding, skin-clearing perks. Helms's program is called Juice for a Day. Six juices, $60, 24 hours. Easy as that.