UK food firm Northern Foods has posted a 16% drop in first-half profits but said it aimed to post second-half profits at last year's level.

The company, which makes own-label ready meals and desserts for UK retailers such as Marks & Spencer, reported underlying pre-tax profit of £32.5m (US$54.2m) for the six months to 30 September, compared to £38.8m a year earlier, reported Reuters.

Northern Foods is in the midst of restructuring and recently parted company with chief executive Jo Stewart, who has been temporarily replaced by chairman Peter Blackburn.

"We are looking to dispose of our non-core businesses to focus on core areas such as chilled and frozen foods and also groceries," Blackburn was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

Blackburn said the company is considering the sale of its distribution, flour milling and Batchelors Irish businesses, but its current priority is appointing a new chief executive.

"We expect to stabilise the business in the second half in terms of pre-tax profits and look to get prices up and refill lost contracts," Blackburn added.