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Francisco Palacios of Fry's Food + Drug Stores in Arizona is the winner of the 2009 Best Bagger Competition, which was held last week at the 2009 N.G.A. Annual Convention and Supermarket Synergy Show in Las Vegas. Phil Lempert, the N.G.A. SupermarketGuru and food editor for the NBC's Today, as well as a regular contributor to Progressive Grocer and The Gourmet Retailer, hosted the Feb. 5 event.
The U.S. Best Bagger Championship is a yearlong, nationwide program in which the best-of-the-best grocery baggers in the United States vie for prizes and the title of America's Best Bagger. Contestants are judged on speed, bag-building technique, weight distribution between bags and style, attitude and appearance. Each rounds included one heat with plastic bags and one with paper
Placing after Palacios were Caleb Kesling, Nugget Market, Inc., California (first runner-up); Evan Harlan, QFC, Inc., Washington (second runner-up); Jeremy Rowe, Martin's Super Market, Michigan (third runner-up) and Malcolm Griggs, Publix Super Markets, Alabama (fourth runner-up).
"Excellence in bagging represents an important element in providing outstanding customer service in an area in which independent community focused retailers excel," said N.G.A. president and CEO Thomas K. Zaucha.
Arlington, Va.-based N.G.A. is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers comprising the independent sector of the food distribution industry.