"Sending this container off was the ultimate goal. Today we've achieved it and it feels fantastic."
Production supervisor at Ample Group, Rhys Wilson, says sending a six-metre container, packed to the brim with 720 cartons of mixed boneless beef, to China last Thursday was just the start of the great things happening at the Mountain Road abattoir and rendering plant.
"This is the test run so to speak. Once it has reached China and the customer sees the great quality Taranaki and King Country beef they have got, we will doubtless be sending plenty more containers to them."
For the small, tight-knit team of 25 staff, plus a full time Ministry of Primary Industries vet on site, as well as a quality assurance inspector, packing the container last Thursday was the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication.
"The team has stuck together, we had a three-month shutdown last year to get everything in perfect working order, so they haven't always had full-time hours with us, but we have stuck together and it has all paid off today," says Rhys.
The cartons contain a mix of five cuts of meat.
"We have trim, shin, chuck, shoulder clod and topside all going to China in this container, from a total of 180 cows."
The container set sail for China from Tauranga at the weekend, and represents more than just a job well done for Ample Group, as the team hope it also marks the start of a new era in trade with China.
Ample Group has been operating out of the Stratford premises for18 months, and from the start the aim was to reach the Chinese market.
"Getting to this point now feels great, and we are looking forward to the future as we continue to grow as an exporter," says Rhys.
With a mainly local team, Rhys is from Stratford and plays rugby for Toko. The success of the company is good for Stratford as a whole he says.
"The more successful we are, the more locals we employ, and of course, we are exporting top quality Taranaki beef which is good for the region as well."