Christina Doll // City of Prince George
A passion for food and a keen interest in business model innovation were the driving forces behind Kevin Pettersen’s decision to open a flour mill on his family’s acreage along the banks of the Nechako River in Prince George. Pettersen enlisted local contractors to build Black Fox Flour during 2020 and opened up freshly milled flour sales to customers in Prince George and across Canada through an e-commerce platform in January 2021.
“We started our business in the middle of the pandemic, so I would say the COVID-19 actually provided us the uninterrupted time to get our mill space constructed and our business up and going sooner,” says Pettersen. “The one decision we made in light of the pandemic was to not open the mill to the public, but instead use our e-commerce platform as our storefront to take orders and then to deliver locally, or ship the flour to out of town customers.”
A main goal for Pettersen in opening a local flour-mill is to bring the life, flavour, and nourishment back into flour that is removed during the commercial production of flour that is found on store shelves. He does so by sourcing organic whole grains from across BC and preserves their flavour by milling the grains to order. Not only is he offering a more flavourful flour to customers, but he is also enhancing local food security, the importance of which was highlighted early on in the pandemic when store shelves were wiped clean of flour.
According to Pettersen, the reaction to the availability of freshly milled flour has been incredible with people responding to the discovery of Black Fox Flour with excitement, surprise, and delight. “Our amazing customers are so fantastic in sharing their appreciation, their excitement, and their photos of the spectacular breads, cakes, cookies, pastas, etc. It feels like we’re ‘unlocking sunshine’, and giving something super positive for people to experience in this unique time.”
Due to this amazing support, Pettersen already has plans to expand into markets that are even farther afield than Canada. He points to the extremely short and highly efficient and responsive supply chain in BC as a key factor in being able to expand into new markets quickly and effectively. Pettersen is also noticing a developing interest from other local producers and businesses in working with Black Fox Flour by growing grain to supply to their flour mill and from chefs and bakers interested in using fresh milled flours.
Pettersen encourages new entrepreneurs to take the steps necessary to bring their ideas to life as it is possible to have a positive impact on the world from Prince George with a little imagination, creativity, vision, and courage.
Visit the Black Fox Flour website to learn more about Pettersen’s vision and to get your hands on some freshly-milled flour produced right here in Prince George.
About the author: Christina worked first as a radio journalist and then a public relations specialist in her hometown of Prince George for almost a decade before transitioning into her current role of Workforce Development Officer in the Economic Development Division at the City of Prince George. She has public and private sector experience in economic development, external and internal communications, marketing, social media and website management, event planning, and research. She has a passion for storytelling and for providing support to local businesses to help them grow and thrive.