Hy-Vee’s Matthew Munstermann Sacks Iowa Best Bagger Title

Munstermann finishes first at the Iowa Grocery Industry Association’s 26th annual grocery bagging competition




Congratulations to the 2013 Iowa Best Bagger Award Winners: (Left to right) Cory Vogel, Storm Lake Fareway, fourth place; Erik Banning, Ankeny Hy-Vee, third place; Matthew Munstermann, Altoona Hy-Vee, first place; David Nelson, Cedar Falls Fareway, second place; pictured here with Paris Schnepf 2011 State Fair Queen, last year's celebrity bagger winner.



Not many of us can say we are the best at what we do. But Altoona Hy-Vee employee Matthew Munstermann can. After finishing third in 2012, Munstermann returned this year to take first place at the 2013 Iowa Best Bagger Contest on Friday, August 9, securing the Iowa’s Best Bagger title, trophy and a $500 prize.

“Matt had a fast time and good weight distribution among the bags, and he handled the crushable items like pro but what really helped him rise to the top of the competition was his ability to cope with the pressure of the competition while wearing a smile and demonstrating a great sense of humor and style,” said Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, which hosts the event annually at the Iowa State Fair. “Bagging groceries is an important point of contact with customers and can be the determining factor in whether a customer returns to the store or goes elsewhere."

Munstermann, 28, who grew up in Villisca and currently lives in Pleasant Hill, will go on to represent Iowa at the 2014 National Grocers Association Best Bagger Contest in Las Vegas Tuesday, February 11, 2014, and has a chance to win an additional $10,000. With 14 years of grocery bagging experience, Munstermann will attempt to be the sixth person from Iowa to win a national title and the first since 2000. The five previous national winners from Iowa were Fareway employees. Munstermann would be the first from Hy-Vee. 

“This feels like the chance of a lifetime to compete at the national level at something,” Munstermann said. “Not a lot of people get to do that. Regardless of whether I win or not, it’s been a lot of fun getting to this point and it will be a great honor to represent the state of Iowa at the national event.”

Before leaving the Iowa Best Bagger competition, Munstermann said that he took the opportunity to seek advice from last year’s winner Tim Hannan of Fareway. “Tim gave me lots of good tips and I plan to practice at home,” he added.

Placing second in the competition was David Nelson, 21, of the Cedar Falls Fareway, receiving $250. Erik Banning, 26, who works at the Ankeny Hy-Vee, received $150 for coming in third place while the fourth-place finisher, Cory Vogel, 22, who works at the Storm Lake Fareway, received $100. West Des Moines Hy-Vee’s Tyler Miller, 26, tied for fourth to make it into the final rounds where he finished in fifth place, receiving an honorable mention.

Munstermann began his career in the grocery industry as a teen, working for his dad at the IGA grocery store in Villisca. Five years ago, he accepted a position at the Hy-Vee located on S.E. 14th and Park, where he was encouraged to compete in the Hy-Vee Best Bagger qualifier by Rusti Subject, assistant store operations manager, and Clete Hjorth, the store operations manager. Hy-Vee holds a qualifying contest to determine who will participate in the Iowa Best Bagger Contest. Munstermann placed first in the Hy-Vee qualifier two years ago, proving he had what it takes to do well at the State Fair.

“It feels great!” he added about winning. “I’ve worked in this field for 14 year so I know a lot of good people and I’ve received a lot of calls congratulating me. Everyone is so happy for me that it feels like I won it for them. I guess it’s kind of like a sport because we are all on the same team.”

A total of 20 individuals took part in the 2013 Best Bagger event, which is celebrating its 26th year at the Iowa State Fair. Contestants bagged identical grocery orders consisting of approximately 40 commonly purchased items into three plastic grocery bags. They were scored and ranked primarily on speed and weight distribution among bags, but individual style and proper item arrangement were also taken into account.

Reusable bags were incorporated in the finals again this year in the Iowa Best Bagger Contest for the fifth time. The finals consist of two heats – one with plastic bags and one with reusables.

This year, members of the crowd had a chance to win one of several gift cards for answering grocery industry trivia questions.

Jackie Schmillen, host of the Great Day Morning Show on KCWI-23; Eddie Hatfield, morning radio show host on KJJY 92.5; and ABC 5 Meteorologist Chris Cohoan as well as 2012 Iowa Best Bagger Champion Tim Hannan (Fareway, Des Moines.) competed in the Celebrity Best Bagger competition this year. Schmillen emerged victorious and will donate the $250 prize to her chosen charity, Kids Living Brave, which supports Iowa children who have cancer. This donation was made possible by Fareway Stores Inc.  

Companies sponsoring the 2013 Iowa Best Bagger Contest include the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Coca-Cola and Hilex Poly. Prize sponsors include Hiland Dairy, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Cookies Food Products and City Carton Recycling. All non-perishable food items used in the competition were donated to the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines.