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A refrigerated bakery case or deli case can be a great way to increase sales in just about any food service operation, including coffee shops, convenience stores, institutional cafeterias, airports, grocery stores, as well as independent and chain restaurants, just to name a few.

Deli cases and bakery cases often look very similar from the outside, so how do you know which one is right for you? We’re here to point you in the right direction with the help of this guide!

Bakery Case and Deli Case Refrigeration Types

Refrigerated display cases like these use two basic types of refrigeration: Forced Air or Gravity Coil. The best type for you depends on the items you want to display in the case.

Forced Air

As their name implies, Forced Air systems rely on fans to circulate cold air throughout the cabinet to keep food contents cool. These cabinets are most often used for bakery products, pre-packaged products, and some deli applications. It’s important to note that because of this air movement, the products you are displaying can dry out if they aren’t covered or left in the case for too long.

Items on our website that use this method are mainly called “Refrigerated Bakery Display Cases” or a similar variation of that.

Gravity Coil

Gravity Coil systems boast a refrigeration coil at the top of the cabinet that allows the cool air to “drop” down over the food. These types of display cases are best for raw meat, seafood, salads, and other deli products where you don’t want the drying effect of constantly circulating air. Gravity coil cases tend to be less expensive than forced air cases.

Items on our website that use this method are mainly called “Refrigerated Deli Cases” or a similar variation of that.

What Do I Want to Display In the Food Case?

Here is a simplified breakdown to help you choose the right one!

Food Item Forced Air Gravity Coil
Danishes and other Pastries
Raw Meat
Pasta Salad
Deli Meat

Features and Options to Consider

Once you’ve decided which type of case (bakery or deli) is right for you, you will want to narrow down your choices.


Don’t think of size just in terms of how much floor space you have to put a case. You might have room for a large case, but if the majority of products you want to display have a short shelf life and/or a quick turnaround time, you can often use a smaller case and save space, energy and money!

Some manufacturers offer “low profile” versions of their cases, which bring all the features and benefits of their larger siblings in a smaller package, which is ideal for convenience stores and other places where space is a concern.

Be sure to carefully view the Specification Sheet of the case to make sure you can meet the clearance requirements for intake and exhaust air. Since many of these cases are also quite large, you also want to look at the measurements carefully to make sure the case will fit through your doorway!


Cases that utilise tiered shelving help maximise the visibility of all products, no matter what shelf they are on, because they bring the products closer to the front of the case.

Glass shelves allow light to filter throughout the display, and gives you more flexible display options compared to wire shelving. Your food will appear to be “floating” and look great too!


Many manufacturers offer both straight glass styles as well as curved glass models. Curved glass models offer a sleek, modern profile. Choose whichever style you think will look best in your operation!


Bakery cases and deli cases boast lighted interiors to help make your products look their best. Depending on the model, some cases use specialised fluorescent bulbs that enhance certain colours or types of products, like red meat or pastries. Often, specialised or additional interior lighting is an option. Some models have the lighting in the top, while others may have shelf-mounted lighting.

Colors, End Panels, and Other Features to Consider:

An end panel will make your case appear full and bigger (a mirrored interior enhances the presentation even more). Full displays will enhance your customers’ perception of freshness, and will help your case still look full even as you sell through the stock. Reflective or mirrored glass rear doors do the same thing, and have the added benefit of “hiding” whatever is behind the doors!

Choosing a black interior minimizes the appearance of hardware within the case, and lets your fresh, colorful products “pop”. Some local health departments prefer a white rear area of the display case for sanitation reasons. Be sure to check your local health department requirements before ordering your new case.

If you are interested in a curved display case, note that some curved glass models have front glass that tilts up or out for easy cleaning.

Source: Webstaurantstore

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