Cirio was born in Nizza Monferrato, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, to a poor and illiterate family. When he was 14 years old he came to the capital of the kingdom, Turin. In 1856, Cirio started preserving tomatoes in tin cans in order for them to be exported. He created his own company (later named Cirio), and when he was 20 years old, he started his first factory in Turin. In 1861, he added further plantations and production facilities in Southern Italy. In 1867, Cirio exhibited his products in Paris at the Exposition Universelle, where he received prestigious awards.