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Nineteen-year-old Martin’s Super Markets associate Kyle Perry is the nation’s new Best Bagger Champion, thanks to superior abilities that were on display at the National Grocers Association (NGA) contest held in conjunction with its convention in Las Vegas last week. Sponsored by Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods presented the competition.
Perry, a resident of Osceola, Ind., beat four other semifinalists and 23 total finalists to win the event.
Supermarket Guru and Progressive Grocer columnist Phil Lempert served as emcee of the bagging showdown at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, where baggers from around the country were rated on speed, bag-building technique, weight distribution between bags, style, attitude and appearance. In addition to claiming “bagging rights,” Perry also took home a $10,000 prize and the “Golden Grocery Bag” trophy.
“I never thought bagging groceries could end up being this big of a deal,” said Perry, adding that he plans to buy new tires for his car and put the rest of the prize money toward his college tuition.
Perry beat out Danny Goodwin of Georgia-based J.H. Harvey Co., LLC, who claimed 2nd place and a $5,000 prize. Other top finishers included Andrew Hadlock of Maceys, Inc., representing Utah; David Williams of Food City (K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.), representing Kentucky; and the only female top finisher, Arcola Pointer of D’Agostino Supermarkets, Inc., representing New York, all of whom took home $1,000 for their efforts. ConAgra upped the prize pool for the winners in this year’s competition.
All told, 23 states were represented at this year’s Best Bagger Championship, a group that NGA President Frank DiPasquale said was representative of the collective spirit and work ethic of supermarket baggers across the country. “With this competition, we aim to celebrate the bagger and the independent grocer,” he noted. “Watching the baggers compete with such enthusiasm, year after year, continues to reaffirm their commitments to this industry.”
This year marked the 25th time the competition has been held.