Product contamination is seen as the number-one threat by food and drinks companies, and a quarter of risk managers fear insurers are not doing enough to provide adequate cover for this risk.

These are the major findings of a survey of risk managers working for 51 UK food and drink processing companies.

The survey, published by Lloyd's, rates accidental product contamination as the biggest threat, followed by extortion and sabotage attempts, and health and safety concerns.

But the survey found that only 39% of companies have tried to put a value on intangible assets, such as their brand name or reputation.

Recalling a product can cost manufacturers millions of pounds, affecting their stock rating and market share.

In June 1999, Coca-Cola was forced to withdraw a range of products from the UK and European markets because of 'quality concerns'.

This eventually cost the soft drinks giant £60m in lost sales and another £8m in recall costs. Coca-Cola also happens to be the world's most valuable brand, worth £70bn.

Max Taylor, chairman of Lloyd's, said product protection was a rising concern: "As the owner of the world's most famous insurance brand, we know the value of brand protection. This survey shows more sophisticated protection is needed."

Food and drinks companies are slowly understanding the need for specific cover. Ian Harrison, underwriter with Lloyd's insurer Beazley, said: "Organisations are beginning to realise the value of their brands, be it on a balance sheet or not. This is particularly true of food and drink, where damage to a corporate reputation is most physically manifested in a product recall."

The Intangible Assets Survey is available from Lloyd's.