A surge in cattle supplies to the factories during the back end of last year boosted kill figures and saw off the anticipated fall in supplies.
The total intake at the beef export factories to the start of December exceeded 1.5m head. While the end-of-year figures were still expected to fall behind 2010, the anticipated collapse in the cattle kill failed to materialise.
The total kill for 2010 was 1.642m head and the 2011 end-of-year intake is now likely to fall slightly shy of 1.6m head.
A new record has been set for the supply of young bulls to the meat factories. The supply to the beginning of last month was 149,000hd, the highest on record and in sharp contrast to the 26,000hd supplied to the plants in 1995.
There has been a consistent increase in the intake of young bulls over the past 16 years, increasing to 46,000 in 2000 and 94,000 in 2005.
Despite the earlier predictions of a tight supply of cattle through the back end of the year, factory intakes for the period from September 1 to December 1 were almost on par with 2010.
Total supply from September 1 to December 1 was 506,178hd compared to 516,021hd for the corresponding period the year before.
Meanwhile, the purity of food and production in a green environment have been identified as critically important considerations in an international survey of consumer priorities for the coming year.
The study was carried out by Innova Market Insights, an international online research group, and identified key trends that were likely to impact on the food and beverage market during this year and beyond.
The survey showed that consumers were ranked 'purity' of food as the top priority when making a buying decision, with the second highest preference being for food that was produced in a 'green' environment.
The study found that social responsibility and sustainability strategies were becoming increasingly important.
This confirmed that cutting carbon emissions, reducing packaging, improving animal welfare standards and increasing fair trade lines had become essential considerations.
John Keane, of Bord Bia's Milan office, said natural products were now becoming the rule rather than the exception among consumer preferences in most western countries, even though there was no clear definition of what was natural.
"According to Innova, this has led to a doubling in the number of food and beverage products marketed as pure between 2008 and 2009, with another third added in 2010 and considerably more in 2011. This trend is expected to continue," Mr Keane said.
"People are also more concerned about where exactly their food comes from. This interest is also fed by the desire to support local producers, along with a demand for authenticity in terms of products from a particular country or region."