It’s the most wonderful time of the year for restaurateurs. But it’s not just for the obvious reason (the influx of guests stopping by for a great holiday dining experience). This month, influencers in the food and beverage world have released their predictions of the hottest trends for 2019.

For the fourth year in a row, the industry experts over at Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon, shared their thoughts on which items will be popular on the shelves. They’re seeing consumers flock toward plant-based snacks, sea greens, and a trendy term called Phat Fats.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco–based consulting firm af&co. is pointing to faux-meat as one of 2019’s winners in its 11th annual report. Waste-conscious menus make a return to both lists, as the industry continues to come up with ways to, for example, turn leftover pasta into straws.

Check out the restaurant trends to come in 2019:

Plant-based snacking

The good folks over at Whole Foods have noticed an increasing interest in plant-based foods over the last couple of years. And we’ve seen this in restaurants, with menus boasting plant-based chicken and beef, for example. But Whole Foods is thinking ahead to plant-based snacking and is looking to add savory umami flavors to the mix. Think jerky, bacon, pork rinds, and even frozen foods with avocado, hummus, and coconut water bases.

Waste reduction

Plastic straws are a hot topic right now, with many urging the government to ban them altogether. One company is already thinking about the future of straws. Pastra Straws is a company that’s creating sustainable straws out of pasta. When it comes to waste reduction, according to af&co., the industry is experimenting with ways to give leftovers and ugly ingredients a reusable makeover.

Sea greens

Seaweed butters, kelp noodles, tuna made from algae — the possibilities are endless. Whole Foods sees this being a top-10 trend in 2019.

Phat Fats

What is that? It’s cute because it rhymes, right? Well, Phat Fats is Whole Foods’ new term for menus based on keto, paleo, grain-free, and paleo-vegan diets. With more people getting into higher-protein and lower-carb diets, the industry giant sees this trend expanding to nutrition bars, vegan coffee drinks, coconut-filled chocolates, and more.

Fundraisers and such

According to af&co., restaurants are adding special causes
to their menus. What would that look like? It could be something as simple as donating proceeds from a particular menu item to a charity or social issue. For instance Lentil as Anything, based out at Abbostford Convent in Melbourne, ask customers to pay what they feel the meal and experience is worth, and if they are unable to pay financially, to contribute by volunteering.

Sustainable packaging

When it comes to packaging, many brands are switching things up. You’re going to see more emphasis on reusable materials, which could mean bringing your own vegetable bag to the grocery store. On the product side, Whole Foods predicts packaging to change to beeswax, waxed canvas, and silicone alternatives.

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