EU beef production is up 3%, which is a worry for Ireland, which exports 90% of its product, according to Paul Nolan.

The Group Development Manager with Dawn Meats said although the suckler herd in Ireland has diminished, the throughput of beef production has held, due to better breeding and the improved technology available.

He said the immediate concern is Sterling and the exchange rate, coupled with the “general drag” of January.

“After that, we are confident that continental Europe will pick up some of the slack it lost last year,” he said.

“We think supplies will be a little bit shorter and certainly with the good work in terms of what Bord Bia is doing in promotions, we’re hoping that will give us the necessary lift.”

And outside of Europe, he’s hoping the manufactured meat sector in the US will open up more quickly than is happening.

“In terms of China, they’re here as we speak carrying out inspections that I expect us to pass with flying colours.

“The question is, given the unknown of the Chinese economy, how will that filter down to demand with the fast-growing middle class that’s emerging there? And we don’t know the answer to that,” he said.

Nolan was talking about beef production at an AIB/Macra na Feirme seminar in Castleisland, Kerry, where they also heard that any significant increase in price in the near future is increasingly likely.