Glass plastic paper and metal will still be the cornerstones of packaging in the year 2001. But shifting socio-economic patterns are changing the mix of packages and services-and the ways they are delivered-long before we reach the 21st century. As we look ahead it becomes clear that some evolving packaging business structures and relationships present unprecedented challenges and opportunities for packaging managers and the suppliers who serve them. The current downsizing environment among packagers is a fertile breeding ground for delayering plans and any number of out-sourcing and out-tasking programs. In its quest to cut out unnecessary costs corporate management has dissected every corporate organizational structure and tried partnerships strategic alliances joint ventures coalitions and federations. Packaging managers have not escaped the cuts. Many managers today are working with smaller staffs and relying more heavily on their suppliers and not merely for quality equipment and materials delivered on time. In these tight economic times packaging suppliers increasingly are being asked to be packaging advisors coaches and consultants. Packaging demands are not changing. But with packaging staffs and engineering departments reduced or eliminated more packagers are coming to rely on a handful of vendors to "be their packaging departments."