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Replacement Rate for Commercial Dinnerware: China vs. Melamine

When considering dinnerware options for a commercial foodservice business, the replacement rate is a crucial factor and cannot be overlooked. Let's review the suggested replacement rates for both china and melamine dinnerware, and discuss what you can do to maximize the longevity of your tableware.


Replacement Rates: China vs. Melamine Dinnerware

While china and melamine dinnerware both have their pros and cons, the difference in replacement rates and costs between the two are significant.

China Dinnerware
There are different types of china dinnerware and, although some are more durable than the others, they're all prone to chipping and breakage. This is why the average replacement rate for china dinnerware can vary from 50 to 150% per year, or every 3-6 months.

This is something to take into account when budgeting for your dinnerware. The last thing you want is to exceed your budget because of unplanned replacement costs.

Melamine Dinnerware
Due to its inherent strength and durability, melamine dinnerware offers a significantly longer service life and reduced replacement rates when compared to china dinnerware options. The average yearly replacement rate for melamine dinnerware is around 10-20%, which is usually due to chipping, breakage, and some wear and tear.

You can easily get 2-5 years out of your initial melamine dinnerware investment, if properly handled and maintained. However, like any other products within a heavy use environment, over time melamine dinnerware will start to lose its luster and may need to be replaced.

This means that melamine dinnerware usually offers a return on your investment in about 18 months or less after replacement, as well as a reduction in liability costs due to reduced breakage.

Average Yearly Replacement Rate: Melamine vs China
China Dinnerware 50% - 150% or every 3-6 months
Melamine Dinnerware 10-20% or every 2 to 5 years


So How Can You Reduce Your Replacement Costs?

For both china and melamine dinnerware, proper inventory levels, as well as care and maintenance are the bigest factors affecting replacement rates and your dinnerware's longevity.

Dinnerware Rotation for a Longer Service Life

Regardless of whether you are using china or melamine for your dinnerware, a good rule of thumb is to make sure products aren’t overused so you can maximize their service life. For your inventory, a typical process cycle should be 1/3 in use, 1/3 being cleaned, and 1/3 in rest. 

China Dinnerware: Care and Maintenance Tips

China is a very simple dinnerware option to care for, but, as previously mentioned, the biggest factor that leads to the replacement of china dinnerware is breakage and chipping.

There are a number of reputable china dinnerware options that boast "chip warranties," which can replace your damaged or chipped dinnerware if needed. However, many of these warranties are limited and you will still have to struggle with reduced inventory levels while awaiting replacements.

Following these simple care and handling tips will help to reduce breakage and replacement rates for china dinnerware.

Minimizing Breakage and Chipping
  • Handle with care when bussing, washing, and storing
  • Overloading dish racks can cause items to rub and bang together
  • Avoid stacking china too high
  • Do not attempt to nest or stack items that do not nest or stack
Preventing Metal Markings and Scratching
  • Inadequate inventory levels can lead to overused dinnerware, which can cause metal markings
  • To avoid wear marks and chipping, do not scrape china with utensils when cleaning or removing excess food
  • To avoid burn marks and temperature shock, never expose your china to direct flame, such as the top of burners
  • Avoid sudden temperature changes, such as putting a hot items into cool water
  • To avoid extreme temperature exposure, be sure that food or liquid is in every piece before being exposed to heat
Avoiding Temperature Shock
  • To avoid burn marks and thermal shock, never expose your china to direct flame, such as the top of burners
  • Avoid sudden temperature changes, such as putting hot or warm items into cool water
  • To avoid extreme temperature exposure, be sure that food or liquid is in every piece before being exposed to heat

Pictured: melamine dinnerware bowl, item B-16-MN-W

Melamine Dinnerware: Care and Maintenance Tips

Even though melamine dinnerware options are extremely durable and easy to care for, they too need to be properly maintained to reduce replacement costs and extend service life.

Melamine dinnerware is usually replaced for aesthetic reasons more so than breakage or chipping. Below are some simple care and maintenance tips that will help you get the optimal appearance and performance out of your melamine dinnerware. 

Preventing Heat Damage
  • Do not expose any melamine dinnerware to direct flame or heat in excess of 200˚F.
  • To avoid cracking and blistering, avoid using melamine dinnerware in ovens, microwaves, plate warmers, or heat lamps.
Avoiding Scratching and Chipping
  • Avoid moderate to heavy use of sharp, serrated knives, as these can cause scratches.
  • To avoid chipping and scratching, do not strike melamine dinnerware with or on any hard surface while attempting to remove excess food.
  • Do not overload dish racks, as this can cause chipping during dishwashing
Preventing Staining
  • Rinsing and washing items right after use will help to avoid staining from dried foods and sauces
  • Presoaking will help to maintain appearance and luster, and will also help you avoid any destaining procedures
  • Do not use any chlorine bleach or chlorine-based sanitizing solutions

Melamine Dinnerware Care and Maintenance Video

As we have seen, the key to maximizing any dinnerware's service life is proper care and maintenance, and ensuring that you have the correct inventory levels to cover your demand. Only then will you be able to reduce your replacement costs, saving you both time and money.

Let us know what you think below. Do you have any helpful tips for your fellow foodservice peers?

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