Melanie Bartelme
Melanie Zanoza Bartelme is a Global Food Analyst at Mintel, providing insights on global innovation and consumer trends across a number of food categories.

The Specialty Food Association held its virtual conference, SFA 24/7, September 27-29, in place of the in-person Fancy Food Show event, originally intended to be held in New York. Global Food Analyst Melanie Zanoza Bartelme served on the show’s Trendspotter Panel and chose five products from the virtual showrooms and the Sofi Award winners that put a unique twist on the pantry items consumers are likely stocking up on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pasta: Solenzi Organic Turmeric, Black Pepper & Corn Penne

Solenzi’s gluten-free pastas put a colorful twist on this pantry staple. Its Sorghum & Purple Carrot Penne, for instance, provides a deep purple hue, while its Turmeric, Black Pepper & Corn Penne features a bright yellow color thanks to turmeric. The pasta is also studded with black pepper, which adds a noticeable texture to the dough. Consumers are increasingly growing tired of cooking for their households, and they are looking for food and drink that feels playful, colorful and more interesting to break free from the boredom of daily meal prep, as explored in Mintel Trend, ‘Eat With Your Eyes.’ What’s more, these pastas also offer nutritional benefits as well: the purple carrot penne features protein, fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene; the turmeric pasta, meanwhile, combines turmeric with black pepper, a common pairing in Ayurvedic cooking that activates the nutritional benefits of each ingredient.

Porridge: Lars Own Scandinavian Style Porridge Rice

This rice product takes global inspiration from what may feel like an unlikely place: Sweden. Porridge Rice may ring a bell with consumers who are familiar with the Asian dish congee, slow-cooked starchy rice that is often topped with savory ingredients like scallions. Swedish porridge, known as risgrynsgröt, takes a sweet approach and features cinnamon and sugar. Whether savory or sweet, rice porridge dishes like these offer consumers a new way to think about breakfast and incorporate international exploration into their morning routines.

Fruit cup: Bonne Maman Apple and Orange Blossom French Fruit Treat

Bonne Maman is known for its intensely fruity jams, so it makes sense that its foray into dessert would also feature fruit. Its new Fruit Treat line blends “premium fruits, delicate spices, and botanical flavors all gently cooked at low temperatures to preserve their natural goodness.” This “indulgent fresh snack” offers both kids and adults an alternative to applesauce or fruit cups as well as a more permissible dessert option.

Coffee and donuts: Eva’s Helado Artesanal Cafe Con Donuts Ice Cream

Coffee and donuts are a classic comfort food combination, and this ice cream shifts that flavor experience from breakfast to dessert. As the brand explains, this is intentional: the pairing of cinnamon-spiked donut pieces and coffee-flavored ice cream “pays homage to Latin America’s favorite all-day dessert,” giving US consumers a chance to extend their appreciation of coffee and donuts across dayparts.

Sour cream: Vermont Creamery Fire Roasted Onion and Chive Sour Crème

Sour cream is often used as a base for home cooks or chefs to create flavorful sauces and dips, but these new products take the work out of the equation. Vermont Creamery’s product range includes Fire-Roasted Onion & Chive, which the company says is a natural topping for baked potatoes and chili or ideal on its own as a chip dip, while the Cilantro & Lime is said to pair perfectly with tacos and other spicy dishes. All varieties, including the classic plain, feature 22% milkfat “for a thick and creamy taste and texture​” that makes this workhorse ingredient feel like a sophisticated and luxurious addition to any meal occasion.