Malmine Dinnerware

Melamine Dinnerware Is In

A few decades ago, most folks regarded melamine plateware primarily as a superior option to paper plates for outdoor dining only. Even today, many people still perceive melamine dinnerware to be for poolside or patio use only because it is commonly shown in retail stores for outdoor entertainment solutions.

However, melamine tableware has entered the 21st century in style due to advancements in alternative materials, design, and manufacturing.

Malmine Dinnerware
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Melamine dinnerware is a great fit for a high-volume operation with a high turnover of dinnerware.

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The average yearly replacement rate for melamine dinnerware is around 10–20%. China can vary from 50–150% per year.

How Versatile is Melamine?

Today's melamine can imitate a number of textiles like porcelain, ceramic, wood, slate, granite, etc., on food-safe surfaces. You can also apply glazes or textures, and find retro farm-to-table designs, artisan patterns, or contemporary understated themes.

The variety and capabilities of modern melamine designs allow chefs to easily mix and match different textures in ways that weren't available to them before. From design, durability, and weight, many operators are finding melamine styles that are great fits for their brand. In some cases, operators can even elevate their brand positioning with modern melamine dinnerware.

Because melamine has a look similar to china, it's easy to find dishes that complement your existing ones. This means that you don't have to replace your whole tabletop all at once if you don't want to. You can easily transition by introducing new melamine pieces here and there for solutions like appetizers, side dishes, different entrées, and/or dessert.

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How Does Melamine Compare to China?

With new advancements in technology, a good quality melamine plate can look and feel just like china, but in addition, it offers extra operational benefits like durability and longevity. Because of this, melamine dinnerware is becoming a popular choice among casual and fast casual restaurants, buffets, cruiselines, catering, business and industry foodservice operations, college and universities.

For example, in a family dining operation that uses a china $4 to $10 plate vs. a melamine $4 to $10 plate is comparable in price but not in performance. After the rigors that come with a commercial foodservice operation, melamine will look better and last longer than the inexpensive china that's going to get bubbles and eventually chip and break.

Melamine dinnerware is a great fit for a high-volume operation with a high turnover of dinnerware. Besides its superior durability against breakage and chipping, you also have a variety of colors, styles, and shapes to choose from. However, there are situations where melamine dinnerware would not be a good fit, for example, a steak house or any operation that uses serrated knives.

China vs Melamine: Replacement Rates

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

China

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 50–150% 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

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.

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Maintaining Adequate Par Levels

One effective way to get the most out of your new melamine dinnerware is to keep a ratio of 3:1. This allows for:

  • One plate to be in use
  • One in wash
  • One in rest

This is important because it helps support a comfortable rotation of your plateware so that they don't get worn down before they should. The lower your plate ratio, the faster you'll go through them due to overuse.

Building a plate count into your quarterly or bi-annual audit will help you keep healthy par levels. Another thing to watch out for is wet plates making their way onto tables.

Wet plates are a sign that your 3:1 ratio has dwindled because you don't have enough on-hand to allow them to dry completely.

When it's properly cared for, melamine typically lasts several years, but frequent microwaving will take it out of service before its time.

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NSF-certified melamine dinnerware ensures the product is made from pure melamine, which means it does not have harmful additives.

Is Melamine Microwave Safe?

Wood pulp is the base component of melamine dinnerware. When melamine dinnerware is microwaved or generally exposed to temperatures exceeding 160°F (regardless of the heat source) on a regular basis or for a long period of time, it will eventually dry out. Imagine a tree that hasn't been watered in ages. Its branches would be weak, brittle, and break more easily than if it was properly watered.

Melamine dinnerware acts much the same when it's frequently microwaved or exposed to temps hotter than 160°F. The thirsty material will eventually brown, become brittle and break, chip, or crack long before its normal service life should be up.

Dried out melamine dinnerware can have a legitimate impact on operations:

  • Shortened service life from premature breaking, chipping, or cracking can be an unnecessary added expense
  • Your brand equity may suffer if guests are served on unappealing plateware
  • Your dishes won't be covered under some manufacturers' warranties

When it's properly cared for, melamine typically lasts several years, but frequent microwaving will take it out of service before its time. That's just an unnecessary cost for foodservice operators, and we truly want you to get the most out of your investment.

Melamine Can Stain – Here's How to Avoid It

Dinnerware made from almost any material can stain when it's not properly cared for. The reasons are pretty simple:

  • Leaving foods and sauces on dinnerware long enough to dry, especially acidic foods like curry or tomato sauce
  • Food protein can combine with minerals in hard water when it's left on dinnerware for too long, causing it to adhere to surfaces
  • Scrubbing with steel wool or green scour pads, and/or using serrated knives results in the deterioration of the glazes that provide a protective layer between food and plateware, increasing the chance of staining

The fix is easy:

  • Rinse your melamine dinnerware immediately after use
  • Gently scrub away any food that didn't rinse off
  • Follow with normal washing in a commercial dishwasher and allow to completely dry
  • Pre-soak melamine dinnerware for 15-20 minutes (or overnight if time is tight) every 2 weeks in bleach-free, granulated detergent

Following the steps above will set your operation up for success in terms of avoiding staining in the first place. If staining does occur, it's possible to remove it with an effective pre-soak, but be sure to use bleach-free, granulated detergent. However, it's imperative to catch and treat stains early and quickly or you may be left with irreversible damage.

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NSF Certification and Melamine Dinnerware

The majority of dinnerware nowadays, ceramic or melamine, is manufactured overseas in countries with far fewer regulations than America. This is where (and why) certification from the NSF comes into play.

NSF is a globally recognized organization that has become the industry standard for sanitation testing with the aim of improving public health. NSF certification is an optional credential accompanied by an arduous, ongoing process of reviewing and testing each step of a manufacturing routine, including raw materials.

When melamine dinnerware is NSF-certified, you can rest assured that the products you’re using are safe in terms of durability, design, and the ability to be thoroughly sanitized. On top of that, NSF-certified melamine dinnerware ensures the product is made from pure melamine, which means it does not have harmful additives.

G.E.T. Enterprises is the only distributor that acquires and maintains NSF certification for 100% of its melamine dinnerware. Learn More About G.E.T. >

Is Melamine Dinnerware For You?

You should consider G.E.T. Enterprises for your next melamine dinnerware purchase.

G.E.T. is the leading manufacturer of creative tabletop solutions crafted from melamine and alternative materials. For over three decades, G.E.T. has pioneered break-resistant servingware, drinkware, and custom designs that have strengthened operations and brands around the world.

G.E.T.'s products are exclusively designed to serve commercial foodservice needs while enhancing tabletop presentations. G.E.T. products are used everywhere from restaurants, hotels, casinos, colleges and universities, nightclubs, cruise lines, and more.

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