How Can Stores Save Their Perishable Foods, Reduce Shrinkage & Their Impact on the Environment?

We all use lights and have a variety of lighting fixtures in our house but have you ever really stopped to think about the lighting industry in greater detail? The lighting industry is more than just fancy lights and light fixtures for households.

When asked what people think of when they think of lighting & the lighting industry most individuals responded by saying household lighting. While the household fixtures represent a sizeable portion of the lighting market share, there are other segments of the market that are commanding more of the industry’s attention.

For example, the commercial lighting industry that services the needs of large supermarkets, independent grocery stores, butcher shops and bakery shops. Why is this market so different? What special needs do these grocery stores have and how is lighting filling this niche market?

For starters the need for specialty lighting is very significant for supermarkets especially when it comes to designing a new layout for their store. A store has many perishable food display cases and self-serve cases. These display cases have different requirements when it comes to lighting and the type of lighting installed can mean a cost difference of thousands of dollars.

The first and foremost reason that a department manager needs to be concerned with what type of lighting they install in their perishable cases is because it is well documented that lighting causes oxidization of perishable products. The UV radiation from lighting (visible and non-visible spectrum) can cause meat to turn color and dry out decreasing the value and integrity of that product. Then there is the potential danger of bacteria growth which can be encouraged under the wrong lighting, again a concern of many department managers.

If a supermarket makes the wrong decision and installs incorrect lighting that was not specifically designed for perishable applications the end result will be sizable shrinkage (spoiled food that must be thrown out) and the dollar value loss associated with losing the sale and then having to throw out the spoiled product.

So what foods are affected by the effects of lighting?

Perishable foods including fruits and vegetables, deli meats, deli salads, cheeses, and packaged meat are the most severely affected by poor lighting. Dairy products like milk may be affected as well as many other beverages including beer and wine, the only difference with beverages is that the type of packaging plays a key role in just how much oxidization of the product occurs.

Stores are becoming more conscious of their in-store practices and their need to increase product integrity. Supermarkets spend thousands of dollars to get the customer through their doors, they spend thousands of dollars on store design and in-store advertising, all aimed at increasing sales and appealing to the customer. As a consumer what is one of the first factors that influences your decision to buy a specific product?

That’s right, the appearance of the product.

Your meat should look nice and red, juicy and tender, not dark or brown, hard and dry. Your salads should be fresh looking and maintain their moistness and freshness, the same thing goes for your cheeses, their color should be vibrant not faded and they should be moist and not dry.

So what are the options store department managers have when it comes to increasing the integrity and quality of their perishable products? First the department managers are responsible for convincing their store managers of the necessity for installing lighting that has been specifically designed for food applications, lighting like Promolux Balanced Spectrum low radiation lamps.

By installing lamps that are designed to reduce and eliminate those portions of the UV radiation the department manager is ensuring that his/her customers receive the freshest product while reducing their loss of shrinkage. Supermarkets that are utilizing the products and technology available to them have the advantage over other supermarkets that are still deciding how they will manage their in-store operations and design.

The importance of specialty lighting and energy management systems can mean the difference between a profit or a loss in a department but it could mean more than that, the consumer is looking to these supermarket giants as industry leaders who need to set an example and make a firm commitment to solving their in-store challenges in an efficient and eco-friendly way.Throwing away tons of spoiled food is not an eco-friendly operation especially when it could have been prevented by installing the correct lights in the display case.

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