The company I work for has been in business in North America since 1982 and is considered the pioneer in food-specific merchandising lighting.
We’ve manufactured and sold millions of lights worldwide, and built a reputation for creating the best lighting for showcasing perishable food
– and we did it by NEVER relying on the Color Rendering Index (CRI)!
In August 2014 the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) wrote a position statement finally recognizing that CRI is an outdated metric with shortcomings, “that limit its ability to fully represent how humans perceive color.” http://www.ies.org/PDF/PositionStatements/PS-8-14.pdf
When I joined this company one of the first things I learned is that decisions to purchase fresh food are subjective. As consumers, we buy based on what we perceive to be fresh and appealing. If we feel that something doesn’t look fresh, we will sift through the product until we find one that does look fresh – or worse yet, we might even go to a different supermarket. When it comes to fresh food merchandising color plays an important role – some say the most important role!
As retailers and merchandisers, distributors, designers and reps, we all might subconsciously realize those buying decisions are subjective; but the real benefit comes when we consciously realize it – because we can do something about it.
The only real way to know how good a particular LED is at showcasing foods’ natural colors is to see it. How does it make the product look? Is it a vibrant display? Are the reds, “red” and the whites, “white”, and so on?
One simply can’t rely on numbers on a piece of paper (ie. CRI, Kelvin, etc) to answer those questions – it’s impossible. You have to see for yourself. Over the years if anyone has visited our websites (led.promolux.com or promolux.com) they’ll notice our CRI and Kelvin is not listed anywhere. We do that for a reason – because the only way you’ll know for certain if an LED will showcase your food in the best possible way is to see it for yourself. Yes, that means we get calls now and then asking for our CRI and Kelvin – and we always provide it without hesitation – but not without first giving the “see for yourself” suggestion.
Even after this post, I’m sure we’ll still get calls from time to time asking for our CRI – but now perhaps when deciding on an LED to use in fresh food display cases, more people will understand that it’s time to let go of CRI, let go of trying to decide by looking at numbers on a piece of paper, and instead say, “let’s see how this LED makes our food look; let’s see for ourselves!”