Associated British Foods (ABF) said the proportion of its profits earned by its UK-based operations now accounted for less than half of the total, compared to almost three-quarters at the turn of the century.

Speaking at the firm’s AGM, chairman Martin Adamson (pictured) told shareholders that the business was now spread widely across the Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa and ABF was well-placed to develop its businesses in all these regions. Two-thirds of production was outside Europe and that part had good growth prospects, based as it is in countries with rising rates of consumption, he said.

Results for the past year had continued to be affected by sugar regime reform in Europe, together with adverse impacts of currency changes on overseas profits and losses in its UK bakery business, he added. The previous year had laid the foundations for strong, sustainable growth in the year ahead, he said.

Some 85,000 people now work for the ABF group worldwide.