Specifying Food Displays: What to Consider

Content sponsored by: Structural Concepts

For foodservice operators, selling grab-and-go food items translates into increased profits. Operators have experienced as much as a 400 percent increase in sales when offering fresh food items for customer selection.

When specifying food display cases, the what, where and how are primary considerations. In other words, operators need to determine what products they will display in the case, where they will position the display case and how they will create an eye-catching display.

Specifier Quick Reference Guide Page 02 Image 0003-6

The following is a quick reference guide that provides helpful tips for addressing these items.

  • Be sure that the display case shelves are adjustable and removable to accommodate a variety of package sizes. This may include an option for display risers, which increase product visibility.
  • Consider where the position of the display case relative to walls, ceilings, HVAC vents, windows and other equipment discharging warm air. The rule is to stay 5 feet away from exterior windows, 10 feet away from HVAC ceiling vents and 15 feet away from exterior doors so outside air doesn’t cause the refrigeration system to work harder, product temperatures to increase or condensation to occur.
  • The design of BOX-style models makes them suitable for placement in alcoves with the proper air flow for compressor ventilation. Position these models against walls and tight to the ceiling because the units channel compressor air up the rear of the display and out the top at the front.
  • Consider the noise level of the refrigerated display. Today’s building designs do not allow for much noise absorption, however new compressor technology has reduced noise levels significantly. Specifying remote refrigeration will completely eliminate compressor noise but there will still be noise from the evaporator coil fans. If necessary, install a compressor blanket to further reduce noise. Look for a blanket design that double wraps the compressor to lower noise by approximately 30 percent.
  • Consider the temperature and humidity levels of the environment where the display will be operating. Most foodservice environments exceed 75 degrees F and 55 percent relative humidity during some part, if not most, of the day. This causes condensation to develop on the exterior of the display and/or water to overflow on the floor due to the evaporator pan not being able to keep up.
  • Be sure to consider the impact that an energy management system or smart thermostat plays on the temperature and humidity of the environment over a 24-hour period. The display case runs 24/7 and temperature adjustments made during the evenings and weekends will affect its performance.
  • Look for food display equipment designed to operate in NSF Type II conditions, especially when specifying refrigerated air screen grab-and-go models. Solutions are available to accommodate higher ambient conditions.
  • Consider adding a night curtain or security cover to help offset higher ambient temperatures overnight. These accessories help keep warmer ambient air from entering the refrigerated zone and provide energy savings.
  • Calculate the daily energy consumption for each piece of equipment to compare total life cycle costs before making an equipment selection.  kWh/day x kWh rate x 365 days = annual electricity cost.
  • Selecting the right style of deli case is important to the success of the operation. Offering a traditional grocery deli appearance, medium capacity models are designed with risers and pedestals to display food, include an entire display area refrigerated by forced air, have a lighted mezzanine shelf that can be removed without tools, include full height angled rear sliding doors and have a built-in rear work ledge. Designed for high-volume locations, low-capacity displays have refrigeration below the rear doors and no refrigerated shelf, but rear doors are removable and condiment rails are available for final prepping.

Unique Merchandising Ideas

Specifier Quick Reference Guide Page 23 Image 0003-118Creating an eye-catching display is what it is all about. Here are some unique ways fresh food is being merchandised.

  • Combine a trio of 2-foot models to display refrigerated and non-refrigerated items in both service and self-service environments. This is a great way to accommodate a variety of products in 6 feet of space.
  • Position grab-and-go displays in between the POS counter or under the counter for additional sales opportunities.
  • Add grab-and-go models behind a prep counter for unpackaged fresh food items.
  • Models are available that offer zero clearance ventilation for the refrigeration system to allow for a completely built-in look.
  • Add a two-sided grab-and-go display to serve twice as many customers at one time.
  • Replace doors with an open display and experience a significant increase in sales. This eliminates visual or access restrictions that limit impulse purchases with open front grab-and-go display cases.
  • Add a 360-degree display of grab-and-go food items with an island display.
  • End displays include non-refrigerated side shelves for complimentary food items. Great for convenience stores, schools and healthcare locations, end cap space is recommended for high margin grab-and-go foods.