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Refrigerated Display Cases 101

The phrase “…the customer eats first with their eyes,” has been uttered so many times that it is impossible to credit the originator. This simple, yet profound, statement is commonly heard in every operation that understands the psychology behind their customer’s motivation. Refrigerated display cases capitalize on this basic principle by displaying the product for sale and hopefully enticing customers into purchasing product while simultaneously maintaining proper temperatures. Refrigerated display cases can be broken down into many sub-categories; the most common being enclosed display cases.

While display cases can be used for multiple purposes, often it is a better long-term move for businesses to invest in product specific cases. There are specific display cases designed for each application that will extend product shelf life, maximize yields, protect products texture, and, of course, present the product in the most appealing way possible to drive sales.

Deli Cases

Seen in grocery stores coast to coast, this supermarket stalwart is specifically designed to maintain the proper humidity and temperature for storing cold cuts, cheeses, and prepared salads. Considering the protein and dairy based nature of these items, the ideal temperature range is kept low to minimize spoilage. The humidity is also kept low, due to the fact that the product stored here is typically well wrapped and will not dry out.

Meat Cases

Butcher shops, mass market, specialty grocers, and even some upscale steakhouse concepts count on these specific pieces to showcase center of the plate proteins in the best possible environment. Working at low temperatures to protect the proteins with a moderately high humidity level often assisted by timed misting, these brilliant marketing tools highlight the delicate marbling in a perfect rib eye and showcase the deep reds and pinks associated with this sector.

Poultry Cases

As savvy purveyors know, the high ticket items are not the highest volume sale items. A dedicated poultry case not only quashes the fear of cross contamination, but also allows vendors the ability to showcase the quality of their product, be it local, free-range, organic, etc. Low temperature plus high humidity is a must for poultry displays, and many of these cases are also capable of storing product on ice to maximize the food’s potential.

Seafood Cases

The pristine bounty of the oceans has always been a great selling point to those operations located along the coast. Generations past would travel hours or more to get a taste of fresh seafood options. After the introduction of air freight, the ability to store product in the perfect environment offered food vendors the ability to capitalize on the inherent love of seafood regardless of their location. Like poultry cases, these items feature drains for ice as well as low temperatures and high humidity. Some seafood cases also feature similar optional misting to that of standard meat cases.

Cheese and Charcuterie Cases

Currently, there is not a stronger and more profitable trend in food than the farm to table movement, and along with it cheese and charcuterie boards. Patrons are developing a more refined palate for local cheese and cured meats, and businesses that offer these items can capitalize on this current trend by displaying what they have in an elegant way. Cool temperatures with moderate humidity allow these items to fully mature and ripen developing the much sought after complexity associated with this category. If you are a chef or shopkeeper who is proud of your offerings in this segment, show them off!

Dessert & Bakery Cases

Displaying dessert choices offers a very different series of challenges. Crisp delicate pastries need a dry environment to highlight their delicate layers, introduce a custard layer and the refrigeration needs change. Layered cakes, pastry, open and glazed cakes, classic southern style 3 layer cake or hand dipped truffles and chocolates that have been painstakingly tempered require different environments to be served at their best, and it is important to know what your needs will be in advance.

The custom cake / cupcake craze and all that is associated with the “pastry arts” tends to downplay how intricate of an art crafting desserts can be. Simply put, picking the perfect pastry case takes a discerning shopkeeper, as they understand the nuances of their product and the necessity for an adjustable environment. Cooler temperatures with low humidity maximize the shelf life of these items while maintaining proper texture.

Fascination with chocolate dates back centuries, and understanding how to properly temper it usually takes training under someone who has trained under a master. It is an incredibly accurate science that that then allows the truly talented to start creating their own masterpieces. In order to protect these pieces, chocolate display cases offer a cool, dry environment that prevents condensation while not being cold enough to promote crystallization in the chocolate.


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