Buehler’s Bagger Is Nation’s Best

Brady Long, 2017 Best Bagger Champion; Duff Goldman; Kristin Mullins, president and CEO, Ohio Grocers Association; Peter Larkin, president and CEO, NGA; and Bob Ling, NGA board chairman.  

Brady Long, 2017 Best Bagger Champion; Duff Goldman; Kristin Mullins, president and CEO, Ohio Grocers Association; Peter Larkin, president and CEO, NGA; and Bob Ling, NGA board chairman.  

Brady Long of Buehler’s Fresh Foods in Medina, Ohio, defeated 22 other Best Bagger competitors from across the nation to claim a grand prize of $10,000 and the title of the National Grocers Association (NGA) Best Bagger Champion.

Designed to promote supermarket employees and demonstrate a superior core customer service skill, the competition has been held by NGA since 1987. Contestants are judged by speed of bagging, proper bag-building technique, weight distribution in the bag, as well as style, attitude and appearance, and are chosen through statewide competitions over the course of a year.

This year’s competition was sponsored by PepsiCo and emceed for the third consecutive year by Food Network star Duff Goldman. The competition was held Monday during The NGA Show in Las Vegas.

Kayelyn Henley of K-VA-T Food City in Virginia was awarded the second place prize of $5,000, and the third place prize of $1,000 went to Hunter Wisecarver of K-VA-T Food City in Tennessee. Fourth and fifth place winners, winning $1,000 each, were Spencer Balderas of Shaw’s Supermarket in Vermont and Molly Dittman of Harmons in Utah, respectively.

“Baggers and courtesy clerks are often the last impression a customer has of a store, and because of this, superior bagging skills, along with friendly customer service, are critical elements to a positive shopping experience for the consumer,” said NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin. “The Best Bagger competition truly epitomizes the spirit and work ethic of the supermarket industry. Congratulations to Brady, who competed with great enthusiasm, and to all our Best Bagger participants who showcased their passion for excellent customer service.”

NGA, Nielsen preview national grocery shoppers survey findings

In other show news, NGA on Monday released topline results from its national grocery shoppers survey that was conducted by Nielsen on behalf of NGA. The survey segments data by independent shoppers from regional and national chain shoppers and provides analysis into consumer attitudes and behaviors. Insights from the survey, along with recommendations on how independents can identify trends and implement strategies to grow their bottom lines, were presented during an educational session at the show.

The results revealed high consumer satisfaction among independent supermarkets. Eighty-two percent of respondents who primarily shop at an independent supermarket reported being very/extremely satisfied compared to 65 percent of respondents who reported being very/extremely satisfied with a national chain. Findings from the survey also showed that independent grocers perform highly in featuring fresh food, the selection of locally grown produce and other packaged goods, and high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables.

“In an extremely competitive industry, independents are finding innovative ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and are doing so with much success,” said Larkin. “With their strong community roots and the agility to respond quickly to consumer demand, independent grocers are on the forefront of meeting customer demand, particularly in areas such as local and fresh.”

Laurie Rains, vice VP, U.S. Retail Consumer & Shopper Analytics, Nielsen, said, “Survey results show once again that grocery shoppers are extremely satisfied with the experience they are having with independent grocery stores. While independents can grow their market share by leveraging their strengths, there are areas of opportunity for growth, such as in the health and wellness categories and offering dietitian services.”

Added Larkin, “The results from this survey provide good recommendations that independent grocers can implement to win in the marketplace. NGA is providing resources to our members to help them implement new business strategies to grow their bottom line.”

Key findings of the research include:

• Local Offerings: According to the survey results, independents shoppers value locally grown fresh foods and source traceability more than national and regional chain shoppers.

• The Health and Wellness Wave: Six in 10 shoppers believe that healthy foods should be displayed alongside other food items.

• Digital Touch: Results show that 20 percent of shoppers shop online, up from 16 percent last year, with 74 percent who shop online using a delivery service and 44 percent using click and collect.

• Community: A quarter of shoppers are strongly influenced by a store that engages in the community, 4 percent higher than last year’s results.

These survey results will be released in full and further examined in a “The Independent Consumer” webinar series throughout 2017. This research report was sponsored by The Shelby Report.

*Editor’s note: Find more NGA Show coverage here and on our social media channels.

About The Author

A former newspaper editor and publisher who has handled digital duties for The Shelby Report since 2011. She once enjoyed leisurely perusing the grocery store aisles but, since having a baby in 2016, is now an enthusiastic click-and-collect shopper.