Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Maruca.
Joe, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2009, I was at a career crossroad and trying to figure out what I wanted to do – I’ve always wanted to create my own brand and since my family in Italy has been in the olive oil business for several generations, I thought it would be a great opportunity to stay connected and continue our tradition here in the US. At the time, we sold most of our olive oil to wholesalers who often dilute and blend extra virgin olive oil for profit, which is a shame because many people have never experienced a quality extra virgin olive oil. We were also at the mercy of wholesale pricing. I decided to create a direct to consumer program where our customers could adopt the trees in our grove and we would send them the olive oil from their tree after harvest.
We wanted to make the experience as personal as possible, so we decided that when customers adopted a tree with us, we would tag the tree with their name for the year and take photos of the tag & tree once they placed their order instead of using file photos and assigning them tree #235 in the grove( for example). We send them the photos, an adoption certificate, welcome letter and a tin of olive oil, then follow-up with the olive oil from their tree after harvest. You can go visit your tree at our family farm (we have welcomed many customers since we started) and you will see your tree tag with your name on it and many of the surrounding trees with names of customers all across the country. We have since expanded to corporate gifting and our product line includes olive oil, balsamic vinegar, table olives, spreads and more.
Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road – at the beginning trying to navigate ocean freight, customs regulations, packaging requirements, international suppliers and a customer list from across the country was a challenge. Our first year, we were so behind in shipping our olive oil to the US that we had to air freight it, which cost us a fortune! Fortunately, we work with a lot of great people and partners that have helped us along the way.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the TRE Olive story. Tell us more about it.
About us: TRE Olive is a family owned and operated olive oil company – TRE means three in Italian for Joe, Michael & Diego (three partners & cousins) but we also have a big supportive family in Italy and the US that help us in many different ways.
What we do: We grow and pick our own olives from our family groves, then press and bottle our olive oil in our family owned olive mill/bottling facility (we never outsource to third parties). We do this so that we can ensure the highest quality.
What we specialize in: We strive to produce premium extra virgin olive oil, create beautiful packaging and give our customers exceptional customer service. In addition, we source other products that complement our olive oils from amazing partners that have similar values. Our goal is to create a product experience that will make our customers want to talk about us.
What are we most proud of: Our commitment to growing our brand in the right way. We don’t think growing too fast is always in our best interest. Although having our brand in Supermarkets across the country would be huge financially, we would be sacrificing most of what got us to where we are today. We want to align TRE Olive with partners that have similar values and make sense for our brand.
What sets us apart: Love. Love for family, we love making great olive oil, we love beautiful packaging, we love our customers. “Taste the difference love makes!”
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Consumers are much more educated and starting to appreciate real extra virgin olive oil and olive oil consumption around the world is growing tremendously. New markets like China & Japan are exploding and have created great opportunities. In addition, studies continue to show the amazing benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet and people are listening.
We have seen effects of climate change – extreme weather, fluctuating temperatures, and unusual rain patterns have affected harvests over the past five years. Harvest used to be a lot more consistent and we would be able to forecast supplies easier. In recent years, we have gone from extremely abundant harvests to barely any, so it’s difficult to forecast. I see this pattern continuing.
Trends: News reports and studies have educated consumers on quality olive oil versus the cheap olive oil bottle at your local grocery store. The industry is trending towards small boutique olive oils and increased quality – which is a good thing!
- Address: TRE Olive
180 Shaker Rd
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
- Website: www.treolive.com
- Phone: 413-224-2031
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/treolive
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/treolive