Contact: Marti Pupillo
(Miami, Fla. - January 24, 2011) The National Cheese Institute today bestowed its highest honor, the NCI Laureate Award, on Emanuele (Lino) Saputo, chairman of Saputo Inc., Quebec, Canada. The award was presented to Mr. Saputo during a luncheon ceremony at the International Dairy Foods Association's Dairy Forum 2011 by NCI Chairman Dave Fuhrmann, who is president and CEO of Foremost Farms USA, Cooperative.
The NCI Laureate Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and growth of the cheese industry. A panel of industry professionals chooses a winner each year based on the person's long-term contributions to the industry.
"Our recipient this year is a humble man who has built a small family business into the largest dairy processor in Canada," said Mr. Furhmann. "An entrepreneur and visionary, Lino Saputo has a talent for innovation and a respect for tradition."
Mr. Saputo has dedicated his career to the cheese industry and his family cheesemaking business, which was established in 1954 with $500 and a bicycle for deliveries. With courage and ambition, he drove the company's initial success in Montréal's Italian market, recognizing and reaping the benefits of the growing popularity of pizza across North America during the 1960s.
Under his leadership, the company acquired several manufacturing plants in the 1970s and developed its own distribution network to meet its rapidly increasing needs. Through a series of strategic acquisitions during the years that followed, the company diversified broadly and continued its rapid growth, tripling in size by the 1990s. The company today offers a wide array of cheeses, including mozzarella, cheddar and specialty cheeses, as well as fluid milk, yogurt and dairy ingredients.
Mr. Saputo's innate business sense and unflagging determination has enabled him to transform the family business into a global undertaking. In addition to its leading position in Canada, Saputo Inc. has become one of the top producers in the United States and 12th worldwide.
Throughout his career, Mr. Saputo has championed market growth and cheese-product innovations relying on his strong belief in family, tradition, hard work and respect for others, especially Saputo's 9,800 employees. Although he announced his retirement as president and CEO in 2004, he remains chairman of the board to this day.
Other cheese industry pioneers who have won the NCI Laureate Award include Mark Johnson, Jerome Schuman, Larry Ferguson, Mark Davis, Wes Allen, Elmer Marth, Max Gonzenbach, Rudy Nef, Don Menzner, Betsy Holden, Don Storhoff, Lester Kielsmeier, Hans Epprecht, Norm Olson, Vince Zehren, Jack Budahn, Leonard Gentine Sr., Raymond Goldbach, Harold Steinke, John H. Nelson and Dave Nusbaum.
NCI will issue a call for nominations for the 2012 NCI Laureate Award this fall.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.