Grocer bags second in packing contest

Tom Hamilton, 24, managerial staff member of Hamilton’s IGA, came in third place at the 2009 Canadian Best Bagger Contest held in Toronto.

  • Nov. 6, 2009 8:00 a.m.

By Jasmine Franklin

Packing grocery bags has a system, maybe even a science and one Ponoka grocer was recognized for his bag packing science and sent to a national competition.

Tom Hamilton, 24, managerial staff member of Hamilton’s IGA, came in third place at the 2009 Canadian Best Bagger Contest held in Toronto.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hamilton said. “You have to remember to take the basic principle of bagging you already know and apply them.”

With a finish time of 38 seconds, Hamilton came in third place while the first place winner, Michelle Sousa from Woodbridge, Ont., finished with a time of 34 seconds. There were 27 participants from across the country who were judged on speed, proper bag building technique, weight distribution and the appearance — all marked on a score out of 30.

“The best bagger contest recognizes the important role baggers play in the everyday grocery experience,” said John Scott, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. “It’s also a reflection of the passion we all share for our industry.”

Each contestant was to bag grocery orders of no more than 30 items that were all to fit into three bags. “Crushable” items such as produce, eggs, chip bags and bread are put in a separate bag while the other two bags are tested for equal weight distribution.

Speed was measured out of 10 — anyone who packed the bags in less than 35 seconds was awarded full points while 67 seconds and longer wasn’t given any points. Proper building technique was crucial to the competition.

The science to a properly built grocery bag is as follows: The sides of the bag should be built with any item except a crushable item. The bottom of the bag should then be filled out, and lastly lighter items should be placed on top of the bottom layer.

Hamilton was entered by a fellow employee at the store and demonstrated his bagging techniques for the Ponoka News. Hamilton also mentioned that all employees at the Hamilton’s IGA are given training on proper bagging techniques.

The first place winner was given $700 and a trophy, second place, $500 and trophy, and third place, $100.