Lino Saputo 101: A Cheese Empire's Italian-Canadian Journey
Zatrun Published at February 14, 2024

Lino Saputo’s remarkable journey begins in the picturesque town of Montelepre, Sicily, Italy, where he was born on June 10, 1937. He was born into the Saputo family, led by his father Giuseppe Saputo, who was a skilled cheesemaker, and his mother Maria.

Early Life in Sicily and Immigration to Canada

In 1950, the Saputo family made a life-changing decision when Giuseppe and his eldest son, Frank, immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Two years later, in 1952, young Lino joined his father, brother, and mother in Canada.

The Saputo family’s migration also included Lino’s siblings: Luigi, Rosalia, Elina, Maria, and Antonina. This pivotal move marked the beginning of a journey that would ultimately lead to the creation of a cheese manufacturing empire. has meticulously explored the early life and immigration story of Lino Saputo, uncovering the roots of his remarkable success.

Building Saputo Inc. and Chairmanship

Saputo’s professional journey was defined by his remarkable achievements within the world of dairy and cheese manufacturing. In 1969, he ascended to the role of chairman of the board and president of Saputo Inc., laying the foundation for the company’s growth.

Saputo Inc. is a prominent Canadian cheese manufacturer that bears his name and legacy. The dairy industry was forever changed under his leadership. In 1997, as the company went public, Lino Saputo was named chairman and chief executive officer (CEO). The shift to a public company under his guidance was a significant milestone in Saputo Inc.’s history.

Leadership Transition and Continuing Influence

Throughout his tenure, Lino Saputo displayed unwavering commitment to the growth and success of Saputo Inc. In March 2004, he appointed his son, Lino Saputo Jr., to the position of president and CEO.

This strategic move ensured a seamless transition and the continuity of the company’s values and vision. Meanwhile, Lino Saputo continued to serve as the company’s chairman, playing a pivotal role in guiding the company’s strategic direction.

In August 2017, another significant transition occurred when Lino Saputo Jr. took on the role of chairman, while Lino Saputo Sr. remained the majority shareholder of Saputo Inc. This change reinforced the family’s enduring influence on the company.

Despite his successful career, Lino Saputo faced legal challenges along the way. In March 2008, Saputo Inc. launched defamation lawsuits against the owners of three Canadian newspapers over articles published in December 2007 that alluded to Lino Saputo’s alleged ties to organized crime.

The lawsuits targeted CTVGlobemedia, the publisher of the Globe and Mail, Quebecor Inc. (owner of the Sun Media Group of Papers), and Gesca Ltd (the owner of Montreal’s La Presse newspaper). Lino Saputo Jr. asserted that the articles contained false allegations against his father and Saputo Inc. Moreover, there were reports suggesting links between Lino Saputo and American mobster Joe Bonanno during the years 1964 and 1979.

In 2017, Saputo’s name appeared in the Paradise Papers due to his ownership of shares in an offshore company, an aviation company located in Bermuda. However, these shares had been sold off in 2010. A spokesperson clarified that this offshore inclusion was for legitimate business reasons and not for fiscal considerations.

Lino Saputo’s interests extend far beyond the world of dairy. He owns a significant stake in a trucking company, TransForce, and has made extensive investments in diverse sectors, including real estate, forest products, hotels, and golf courses. This diversified approach showcases his ability to excel in various industries.

Lino Saputo: Honours and Recognition

Lino Saputo has received notable honours in recognition of his contributions. In 2011, he was appointed an Officer of the National Order of Quebec, acknowledging his impact on the province’s economic landscape. In 2012, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada (CM), as announced by the Government House on June 29, 2012. His legacy also extends to his family, with his son Lino Saputo Jr. being recognized as “Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year” for 2019 by the Financial Post.

Lino Saputo’s journey from Sicily to creating a dairy empire in Canada is a testament to his dedication, resilience, and vision. His story reflects the values of family, hard work, and adaptability that are at the core of his success. Whether facing legal challenges or diversifying his investments, Lino Saputo has continued to make a mark in various fields. His enduring legacy is a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and those looking to achieve success while upholding their principles

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