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What Determines the Cost for Melamine Bowls? Factors and Price Ranges

Whether you’re serving a soup and sandwich lunch special, an entrée salad, or pasta, bowls are an important dinnerware item in any commercial foodservice operation. In this article, we will look at the factors that will impact the cost for melamine bowls, things to consider before purchasing bowls, and price ranges.

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Factors That Impact the Cost for Melamine Bowls

There are several factors that can impact the price of your melamine bowls such as the quality of material, the weight of raw material used to make your bowl, thickness, and design features. In addition to those factors, knowing the below information regarding your operation will help you make a more informed purchasing decision, and will hopefully be cost-effective as well:

  • Size of your operation
  • Number of seats in your restaurant
  • Menu Items
  • Number of tables turned per day
  • Par level

Since the menu is like a blueprint for a restaurant, knowing what you serve and how many pieces used to serve each menu item is a necessity. This will help with buying the right size bowls to match the rest of your tableware settings. In addition to that, it serves as a guide to assist you in picking bowls that will not only showcase your culinary skills, but how you search for those versatile items that can be used for multiple applications. The recommended ratio range for bowls to customer is a minimum of 2 to 3 dinnerware per seat.

Bowls that are in continuous use run the risk of having a short life span. To make sure you’re not putting your dinnerware investment at risk, your dinnerware should be cycled through the following recommended process of having 1/3 of your bowls in use, 1/3 being cleaned, and 1/3 in rest.

If your bowls are going from the warewashing cycle straight into serving, you’re decreasing the life of your bowls.

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Price Ranges for Melamine Bowls

Based on common dinnerware bowls used in most foodservice operations, here is a list including a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles of melamine bowls with price ranges from economical to premium.


Small Salad Bowl 13 oz.: about $1.65 to $12.16 per bowl

Entrée Salad Bowl 32 oz.: about $3.58 to $12.75 per bowl

Small Soup Bowl 8 oz.: about $2.08 to $5.16 per bowl

Large Soup Bowl 16 oz.: about $3.33 to $6.08 per bowl

Small Pasta Bowl 8 oz.: about $1.35 to $5.33 per bowl

Large Pasta Bowl 24 oz.: about $2.45 to $11.67 (1.3 qt. bowl)


Bowls can range from 4 ½ oz. to 36 oz. You might have a 32 oz. bowl in the economical price range and that might be the same cost (or more) as a mid-range priced 16 oz. bowl. So, you’re getting more bang for buck here, but you’re losing appeal, design, and weight. It goes back to presentation, performance, operation, and what brand you have.

Operators want to protect their brand at all costs and some use the tabletop to emphasize their brand. That’s why if their brand features a farm-to-table style concept, you would likely see dinnerware that resembles the new G.E.T. Mill collection. If you go into restaurants that are very industrial, they might have something that’s sleeker and more contemporary. In a lot of those places, you’re going to have a more urban décor compared to fine dining, where you’re going to get a lot of white china.

Every operator has a different requirement, whether it be for a fruit bowl, a salad bowl, a cereal bowl, or a soup bowl. It really depends on what they’re looking for, and depending on what their use is at their facility will determine what size and shape bowl they use.

Replacement Costs for Melamine Bowls

I wholeheartedly encourage operators to budget for dinnerware replacement costs while they’re considering dinner bowls for their initial investment. Because of its durability, replacement costs for melamine dinnerware is very minimal, if proper care and maintenance is being given to the product. At most, the replacement rate for melamine dinnerware is about 10%. 

Hopefully this article helped answer your questions about what determines the cost for melamine bowls.

Melamine Dinnerware Care and Maintenance Video




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