Leading UK retail and manufacturing companies have come together to launch an initiative to help food supply businesses achieve Year 2000 compliance.
Members of the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), including Asda, Safeway, Procter & Gamble and Mars, have launched Initiative 2000 to help companies establish a systematic approach to tackling the date change.
Advice on how to make an inventory of systems that might be affected and best practice in protecting vulnerable systems will be available from the IGD Web site (www.igd.org.uk) and on CD-ROM.
Initiative 2000 aims to ensure that everyone in the food trade can continue trading through the date change.
"All companies are linked and even the largest companies are not isolated.
The supply chain is as strong as its weakest link," explained Joanne Denvy, chief executive of the IGD.
Tim Cooper-Jones, chairman of Initiative 2000, said companies registering with the scheme will have to fill in a questionnaire about their Year 2000 status. "This makes the extent of the problem more visible. It will allow us to see what movement takes place and where the weak links remain," he said.
The government has backed the food industry's initiative. Don Cruickshank, chairman of the Millennium Bug Campaign, said the IGD programme is exactly what the government wants to see businesses doing.
Cruickshank maintained that all mission critical systems in the public and private sector would cope with millennium date change. "Every link will be assumed guilty until it has been proven innocent," he said. "Health and safety aspects of companies and government will be dealt with first, to make absolutely certain plans are adequate."
Although welcoming Initiative 2000, Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000, complained that government confidence on this issue "verges on the complacent".
He cited a recent Cap Gemini survey that found one in six companies will fail to meet the Year 200 deadline, representing 38% of the UK gross domestic product. "If this is even half true then there is potential for a major economic upset unless people start getting it right," he said.
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