Ceapro is one of Edmonton's, and all Canada’s, best-kept secrets.
You may never have heard of the company, but it’s a world leader when it comes to products made from oats.
That’s right – oats.
Walk down your supermarket’s personal-care aisle, and you’ll be surrounded by products with “ingredients by Ceapro”, such as specialized major brand-name shampoos, moisturizers and anti-itch lotions.
If you were magically transported to Japan to walk the aisles of a veterinary clinic or an animal hospital, you’d find pet products made from Ceapro’s oat extract products – pet shampoos, ear treatments and skin conditioners.
In China, the use of Ceapro ingredients shifts yet again, to pharmaceutical preparations for specific medical purposes.
“We’re a world leader in specialized oat products,” says Ceapro Chief Scientific Officer David Fielder.
Ceapro’s actual manufacturing space is soon to move out of the nearby Leduc Agri-Processing Business Incubator. Thanks to a commercialization acceleration grant from Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions, Ceapro will soon have its own dedicated plant.
TEC Edmonton has been assisting Ceapro with business planning, and Ceapro's lab and headquarters are located in the TEC Centre, on the fourth floor of Enterprise Square in the heart of Edmonton's downtown.
Ceapro’s story began in 1997, when Fielder was involved in developing a commercially viable means of extracting avenanthramide and beta-glucan from oat kernels. “Mind you, it takes a ton of raw oats to make a few tablespoons of avenanthramide, which is our flagship skin-care product,” says Fielder.
There have been ups-and-downs along the way, but today Ceapro is a well-established company with 22 employees in the Edmonton area. Revenues from its manufactured products resulted in 2010 sales of $5.6 million.
You need sunglasses to gaze at the bright sun of Ceapro’s future.
The world is interested in natural products that work. Ceapro’s oat technologies, and now other plant-based extracts, fill the bill.
As the baby-boomers age, they are looking to natural oat products for moisturizers and anti-aging formulas. The anti-inflammatory properties of ingested oats may alleviate the stiffness of old age. Oat extracts have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar levels and promote general cardiovascular health.
Ceapro’s strength lies in its field-to-formulation expertise. The company knows how to select the best oats for its products, about the extraction of active ingredients through Ceapro’s patented process technologies, about oat-based consumer health and cosmetic products that can compete on both price-point and quality in the global marketplace.
Its latest research initiative, for instance, concerns a new process to produce a dry, cotton-candy-like oat extract – easier and cheaper to transport than the current liquid extracts, with advantages in certain personal care, medical and food formulations.
There’s also other, new, plant extracts.
Expanding on its plant chemistry experience, Ceapro developed a hair product from sweet blue lupin, a legume introduced to Ceapro by Alberta Agriculture researchers. The active ingredient has been successfully extracted on a commercial scale and is now used in brand-name hair products to extend the life of applied hair dye.
With Canada’s National Research Council, Ceapro has established a lab in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island to screen new plant extracts for potential health benefits. With Agriculture Canada and commercial growers on the island, Ceapro is looking at possible benefits from a new variety of spearmint, licensed exclusively to Ceapro by the University of Guelph.
Fielder is not only confident, he’s certain that Ceapro will have new, breakthrough, specialized plant-extract ingredients to sell to the companies that make the skin and hair-care products, just as new opportunities emerge in nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications.
“It’s just a matter of time,” he says.
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