Why food & agri companies need a crisis management plan

03 January 2019

Crises happen and how your company responds to them will largely determine the impact they have. Get it wrong and you quickly turn a headache into a headline. Get it right and you can protect your company, your employees, your customers and your brand. These are things that should not be left to chance.

Food and agriculture companies face a diverse range of operational, financial, geographical and reputational risks – to name but a few. Insurance can provide financial recompense for losses in these areas, but it can also provide access to expertise to ensure the first actions taken in a crisis are the correct one. A security risks product does just that.

It is important to emphasise that the type of policy we are talking about here does not reimburse policyholders for loss of revenue, profits or assets. Instead it provides immediate access to security experts and covers their fees to act on your behalf.


Many large companies will have their own PR, marketing and logistics teams. These teams are experts in running the business on a day-to-day basis, but they are rarely skilled or experienced in managing a full-blown security crisis that could impact the safety of your employees, your customers or your company.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and they need to discharge that responsibility with care and consideration. So too must they safeguard their customers and shepherd their brand.

Access to experts in a crisis empowers them to discharge these responsibilities effectively.


JLT provides security risk insurance that responds to almost 40 perils that fall under five categories.

These categories are:

  • Information risk
  • Industrial espionage, intellectual property theft
  • Criminal risk
  • Product tampering Workplace violence and bribery
  • Political risk
  • Seizure or confiscation of an asset
  • Political violence and terrorism
  • Malicious damage, outbreak of civil war, strikes, riots, civil commotion
  • Extortive crime
  • Kidnap, hijack, extortion, blackmail.


To contextualise how a policy would respond and the value it would provide it is worth looking at the types of situations regularly faced by companies.

Let’s imagine your business manufactures powdered baby milk and is told by an anonymous source that they have contaminated a number of cartons with poison. In return for a financial payment it will tell you where these cartons are located.

Immediately you must assess the threat knowing that customers’ lives could be in jeopardy. Collating an instant, effective and appropriate response in such circumstance is incredibly difficult and demands experience and expertise.

A security risk policy gives you that real time response and a phone call will engage experts in this field who can provide the specialist support and guidance you need to make the right decisions that will protect your customers and minimise the risk they face.

In a similar real-life case, the security experts were able to identify the threat as a hoax, stop the crisis developing any further and prevent the incident hitting the headlines. As such their intervention was invaluable.

Had it not been a hoax, they would have enacted a swift response to stop contaminated product falling into consumers’ hands and ensured there was a measured and consistent message given to customers and shareholders.

They would have worked with regulatory, supervisory and law enforcement agencies to create the protective framework needed and ensured the company’s response was rapid and robust.

Implementing such a considered and expert-led crisis management plan is incredibly difficult without in-depth understanding and it is this that professional security consultants bring.


Nor is it only consumers that can come under threat. Food and agriculture executives and employees travel to all corners of the world. As they do, they face myriad potential risks from kidnap and terrorism to civil unrest and political violence.

Could you protect and repatriate employees caught up in a terrorist attack in India, or negotiate with kidnappers in Columbia?

Again, a security risk policy provides the expertise required to handle these evolving chaotic situations professionally and in real time, affording your employees the highest level of assistance possible.

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Unstable countries also pose significant security risks for companies with operations in these territories and events in recent years from Zimbabwe to Venezuela have shown how quickly and ruthlessly governments can confiscate land, property and commercial assets.

Companies may have insurance cover for the financial loss incurred, but these policies do not make provision for security consultancy at the point of need, making it difficult to mitigate the loss by responding in the quickest and most appropriate manner for the business’s immediate requirements.

The first response benefit provided by security risk policies allows companies to manage the situation in the present, and to navigate volatile environments where issues can escalate extremely quickly. This has a significant impact on the overall disruption and loss suffered.


It is also worth noting that a security risk policy is not only triggered if an insured peril actually happens, but also by the suspicion or imminent threat of it happening. This enables policyholders to call upon experts in a preventative capacity, often defusing potential incidents and avoiding them escalating into full-blown crises.

Security risk policies are rarely publicised by the companies that carry them as they generally provide some level of cover for kidnap, ransom, bribe and extortion demands. Publicising that such insurance is in place could draw unwanted attention to a business and so it makes sense to keep it under wraps.

However, the downside is that security risks policies are not always immediate considerations fora lot of companies as they have limited knowledge of their availability and the benefits they offer. But the on-demand specialist response they provide has never been more necessary than in today’s inter-connected, fast evolving and multinational operating environment. 

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For more information please contact Simon Lusher, Head of Food & Agri on +44 (0)20 7459 5550.