Meat-packaging firm Hilton Food Group Plc posted a 7 percent rise in first-half pretax profit, aided by strong volume growth and positive impact from foreign currency translation, and said it expected to meet its forecasts for financial year 2009.

The company, which caters to international food retailers like Tesco and Ahold, said on Thursday it was well placed to explore opportunities for geographical expansion.

For the 28 weeks ended July 12, the company said its pretax profit rose to 10.4 million pounds ($17.20 million) from 9.7 million pounds last year.

Turnover grew 13 percent to 427.2 million pounds.

The company declared an interim dividend of 2.6 pence, up from last year's 2.4 pence.

We have continued to grow the business through new product initiatives as well as achieving growth in new markets, such as Central Europe, Chief Executive Robert Watson said in a statement.

Hilton Food shares closed at 192.5 pence on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange.

($1=.6045 Pound)

(Reporting by Tresa Sherin Morera in Bangalore; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)