From funky ingredients to bites and barks, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) has unwrapped the latest trends taking shape at the annual Sweets & Snacks Expo held this week in Chicago.

“This year's Sweets & Snacks Expo is host to more than 750 exhibitors all sharing the most innovative offerings from their respective companies,” says John H. Downs Jr., NCA president and CEO. “With the use of unique ingredients and flavor combinations, the tastes of 2016 are bigger, bolder and more groundbreaking than ever before.”

According to NCA, at this year's Sweets & Snacks Expo, the following trends emerged:

Bites, Barks and Thins: Manufacturers are consistently creating big tastes in small products this year, often under labels like “thins” and “barks.” These products don't skimp on ingredients or quality, but focus on delivering a delicious product that's easy to snack on while on-the-go or to simply enjoy in moderation.

Fantastic Fruits and Noteworthy Nuts: With chocolate and fruit or chocolate and nut combinations performing increasingly well over the last three years, a multitude of innovative fruit and nut products are being launched in 2016. New fruit and flavor pairings such as mango and chocolate, blueberry and acai or fig with vanilla are emerging. Similarly, the industry is going nuts for new nut innovations. Expect to see the inclusion of more hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews and salted almonds in candies and snacks in 2016. Coconut, a botanically curious fruit/nut hybrid, will also be paired with flavors like caramel, peanut butter and chocolate.

Far-Out Flavor: Today’s flavor profiles are bigger and bolder than ever before with unique flavor combinations taking the confectionery and snack industry by storm. This category includes kitchen-inspired flavors including pumpkin, fiery spices and robust international flair. Saigon cinnamon, Sriracha and chimichurri are a few flavors that are expected to pack a punch at the expo. Other notable ingredients within this category include coffee, espresso and cappuccino flavors.

Innovative Ingredients: Coconut palm sugar, coconut milk, chia and pumpkin seeds highlight a handful of the variety of ingredients in this year’s new product launches. These creative ingredients are far from ordinary and designed to take taste buds to a new level.

Taste of Luxury: Over the past three years premium chocolate sales increased 56 percent. Even candies known for their mass appeal are creating premium products. Candy companies incorporated high quality ingredients and flavors like champagne, muscadine grape and Himalayan sea salt.