Associated British Foods is planning to expand internationally according to chief executive Peter Jackson, who said "there is no bigger priority than looking for the right acquisition". His comments came as the group announced a drop in pretax profit of £15m for the half year. Interim results for the 24 weeks to March 4 show a pretax profit of £170m, compared with £185m for the same period last year. After exceptionals, pretax profits rose 53% to £167m. Chairman Garry Weston said the company was hit by competitive trading conditions particularly in the UK which had put pressure on prices. And he said improved supply chain efficiencies also affected performance. Several new lines were introduced into the UK grocery market ­ including a range of bakery snacks under the Mrs Beeton brand. Twinings continued to build on its success but Burton's Biscuits suffered from fierce competition and closed its HQ in Bracknell. Other ABF grocery businesses managed to combat tough market conditions by cutting costs ­ which included the sell-off of the group's ice cream business, Allied Frozen Food, for £18.8m. However ABF's profits for the half year in Europe increased from £127m in February last year to £133m, and overall retail profits were up from £21m to £26m. {{NEWS }}