We all know that the juice bar has been a fixture of L.A. food culture for what feels like decades. But is the great moment of juice bars over?
In good news for juice bars, healthy drinking is more popular than ever in 2018. Juice cleanses and detoxifying drinks like those with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are surging in popularity, and sustainability initiatives like “compost” smoothies are injecting new life into the market.
There’s also a nationwide move by juice brands and juice bars to remain relevant by cutting sugar, adding exotic ingredients, and playing with new formats. Charcoal is a new go-to ingredient to combat fears about artificiality and sugar, and the idea of a “juice shot” is gaining popularity.
That “juice shot” reveals another way of revitalizing the juice bar idea: with purity. Experts say that there’s a strong new trend for single-ingredient (or limited ingredient) juices like straight carrot juice or straight kale juice. Finally, while color is still an important way to attract customers, and appeal to the way they sip with their eyes, natural ingredients will always trump the need for color.
What’s Happening in L.A.?
The national and worldwide retail markets for juices and smoothies increased in 2017. But is this true of Los Angeles as well?
In 2015, the L.A. Times reported that the juice bar trend was still “going strong.” This story argued that the juice bar “trend” really wasn’t a trend at all anymore. It was, per the Times, a fad that had passed into everyone’s normal lives as a healthy way to get nutrition, becoming a habit and a daily activity rather than a “thing.”
And this makes sense. An organic smoothie or a fresh-pressed juice is the healthy equivalent of a McDonald’s cheeseburger: fast, easily available and very portable. It’s easy for everyone to find a place on their way to work to get a juice or smoothie as a breakfast, lunch or even dinner replacement. The fact that the juice is delicious and healthy just makes it that much more attractive.
We all know how many of us struggle with getting enough fruits and vegetables. This is because shopping, storing, and finally preparation are all very time-consuming for many of us, and we end up with food that goes bad. But a smoothie? That’s easy. You can get your kale or beet, or whatever the new healthy trend is easily and conveniently.
There’s no evidence that these observations from 2015 aren’t still true. People still want fast, convenient ways to get the healthiest ingredients. If L.A. observers are seeing juice bars close down, those may very well be the ones who aren’t willing to adapt to the new trends in health, nutrition, and sustainability that we mentioned above.
What’s New? Juice AND Salad
In June, Fresno was the first west-coast recipient of a New York chain of juice and salad bars called Jugo.
This is one example of the juice bar industry taking a cue from the recent L.A. trend in salad, by combining the juice and salad concepts to present another option in healthy, easy, portable nutrition for Californians.
Some of these locations focus on “to-go” options, while others tap into the sustainability trend with reusable bowls and cups for juice. In L.A., you can go to Mrs. Winston’s Salad and Juice bars to explore this concept. They are a good example of this hybrid concept, with both prepared grab-and-go salads, a bar for doing your own add-ins, and a juice bar.
What Else is New? CBD Smoothies
The salad and juice concept is a new format, but that doesn’t mean that your local juice bar can’t keep reinventing itself with juice shots or new ingredients like CBD oil.
Across a whole range of L.A.’s best juice bars, like Moon Juice, CBD is the new exotic ingredient for folks to try. At Moon Juice, they offer CBD in juices, “tonics” and other beverages like almond milk. CBD is the new chia seed- it’s the hot ingredient that will help people keep coming back to juice bars.
Always Adapting and Not Going Away
This endless possibility of changing their format, presentation, or ingredients, means that we should be prepared to keep seeing juice bars everywhere. They’re fast and convenient, and people just don’t get tired of the good ones that stay on top of trends! So the answer to the question is a resounding YES, it appears as though juice bars are here to stay.