The latest Flexible Packaging Association (F.P.A.)’s research shows that developing countries are leading the way in packaging consumption.

By 2021, overall retail packaging is projected to expand by 23% in Africa, 18% in Asia, 8% in South America, 8% in Europe and 4% in North America, according to the F.P.A.’s State of the Industry report.

The major drivers include convenience, on-the-go eating, recloseable snacks and portion control, noted Alison Keane, president of the F.P.A.

“We are seeing these trends across the globe, particularly in Asia and certainly in South America, and to a lesser extent, in parts of Africa,” she said.

Population growth and the expansion of the middle class in certain developing countries are fueling economies and flexible packaging growth.

“We’re seeing growth in snack items like bars for breakfast, and resealability through flexible packaging is super important from a convenience standpoint and to keep snacks fresh so that it still tastes good the next time you eat it,” Ms. Keane observed.

A more holistic lifestyle, especially among millennials, is not just a North American or European mega-movement.

“Certainly, the emerging markets in China and India are following the same trends,” Ms. Keane said.

Another key driver involves buying an “experience” that packaged foods provide. She said it’s not just purchasing a product to satiate hunger, but rather, the savoring of the enjoyment it brings.

“Consumers are not necessarily as brand loyal as they were in the past or looking at just a specific product,” Ms. Keane explained. “They’re looking at the whole company and what it is all about. Consumers consider sustainability of the company and not just the product.”

In Japan, shoppers place a high value on packaging.

“When you walk into a grocery store, what you see is how the package visually hits you,” she noted.

“In China and Africa, the product is primary, and the package is there more to protect it without being spoiled or damaged,” Ms. Keane said.