Emanuele (Lino) SAPUTO

Emanuele (Lino) SAPUTO

2012 Economic Economic

An Italian Quebecer, Emanuele (Lino) Saputo and his family founded one of North America’s pioneer companies for dairy and cheese products. It is his determination that helped transform his family business into a global corporation. A highly respected Montréal businessman, he is well known for his innovative spirit and commitment to excellence. 

Born in 1937, in Montelepre, near Palermo, Italy, Lino Saputo is the son of a master cheesemaker. In 1950, after the Second World War, his father and older brother left their small village in Sicily and emigrated to Canada, convinced that the country would offer their family a better future. Two years later, in 1952, Lino, his mother, brother and four sisters came to join them.

Like many immigrants, the Saputos’ beginnings in Montréal were a struggle, and every member of the family had to do his or her part. Two years after his arrival, Lino Saputo convinced his father Giuseppe to start his own business. Thanks to their efforts, courage and sacrifice, the Saputo family founded in 1954 the business that bears its name.

During the 1960s, Saputo went through a period of major growth and demand for its products increased. In 1969, Lino succeeded his father and is named Chairman of the Board and President of Saputo Inc. The Company then made a number of acquisitions to become the largest dairy processor in Canada and one of the largest cheese producers in North America.

In March 2004, Lino Saputo handed over the management of the Company to his son, but stayed on as Chairman of the Board. Today, his Company includes close to 50 plants spread across Europe and America (Canada, the U.S., Argentina, the U.K., Germany), and sells its products in over 50 countries.

In addition to his functions at Saputo, he is also President of Jolina Capital Inc. and Gestion Jolina Inc., two family private investment portfolio companies in the food, transportation, forestry and real estate sectors.

Lino Saputo, a seasoned businessman, is also known as a generous philanthropist and supporter of many causes. For Saputo’s 25th anniversary in 1979, Lino and his wife Mirella created a charitable foundation that helps sick and disabled children, women and seniors. The Saputo family also helps promote soccer in Quebec, most notably by endowing Montréal with a professional soccer stadium in 2008.

Lino Saputo has received many tributes and honours. In April 2007, Mirella and Lino Saputo received the Philanthropic Merit award as part of the 2007 Les Mercuriades competition. In June 2010, Lino Saputo received an honorary doctorate from Université de Montréal. In January 2011, the National Cheese Institute gave him its highest honour: the NCI Laureate Award. In May of the same year, Lino Saputo was named an officer of the Ordre National du Québec, and in June 2012, he was made a member of the Order of Canada.