The changes in the use of plastic and plastic straws in particular has reached global proportions. In China specifically, as of 2021, the government issued the most stringent plastic restriction in the country’s history. Virtually overnight, plastic straws have disappeared from all elements of Chinese society.
This means there is a sudden shift in the interest of eco-friendly straws. The two hottest replacements of the plastic straw: bamboo and paper straws. Sourcing Nova has previously discussed the paper straw wholesale and its impact. We now shift to the bamboo straw wholesale.
Bamboo straw – advantages
Possibly the most important factor that many take into account is the look. The physical appearance of the bamboo straw has an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye – the first element a customer notices on the way to a solid sale.
Bamboo has the added advantage of considerable durability over the paper counterpart. With one end cut on a bias for a piercing tip, the bamboo straw easily pierces plastic lids and film, making it perfect for any number of beverages including coconut juice (milk)?
There are no chemicals or additives used in the production, shipping and use of the bamboo straws. Users can be assured the straws they use are safe for them and the environment around them.
One of the fastest growing plants in the world, bamboo is an easily renewable and sustainable resource. Bamboo straws continue to grow in popularity in European countries and the Americas due to their many positive qualities: natural, ecologically sound and highly cost-effective.
Bamboo straws – source
Over 500 species of bamboo exist in China. Most occur south of 35°N latitude. However, there are only two main species of bamboo used in straw manufacturing: Fargesia spathacea franch and Phyllostachys pubescens.
Fargesia spathacea franch, commonly called the arrow bamboo, is a small perennial, meaning it grows around the year, and grows in small clusters or closely together. The plant grows upright between 1.5 to 4 meters (5 to 13 ft.) and between 0.5 to 2 cm (1/4 to 1/2 in.) in diameter. The internodes, individual segments of the shaft, are 15 to 18 cm (6 to 7 in.) and devoid of smaller branches on the sides and the interior wall measures 2 to 3.5 mm (1/10 to 1/14 in.). The plant itself is also entirely circular.
Arrow bamboo is widely found between western Hubei and eastern Sichuan, as well as southern Gansu, Shaanxi, Yunnan, Hubei and Jiangxi. The vast majority of the Chinese people and the world are familiar with the arrow bamboo as a plant – this is the primary food source of the giant panda.
The seeding-shaped shoots of the arrow bamboo are a vital part of the Chinese diet and are commonly used for sour bamboo shoots – a staple cuisine. The plant also makes a brush for the Four Treasures of Chinese studies, the brush, ink, inkstick, paper and stone. These are the tools of Chinese calligraphy and painting – both with a rich historical significance in Chinese culture.
The internode is completely round and features a yellow to green outer layer.
If you are curious and wish to wholesale bamboo straws, it would make sense to learn more about the types of bamboo available and their origins as raw materials.
Arrow bamboo straws from Fargesia spathacea franch
The straw itself is relatively simple to make. The factory cuts the pieces to length, with only the internode needing polishing. Due to the natural coloration of the bamboo, spots and patterns are to be expected. Preparation includes disinfection with high-temperature salt water, sun drying and air dried to a certain percentage of moisture remaining.
Characteristics of the Fargesia spathacea Franch
The bamboo straws of the arrow bamboo are pleasing to the eye and the environmentally conscious. The only drawbacks to the straw are the inevitable variation in sizes, colors and diameters. The natural coloration and spots are also unavoidable yet can provide a degree of character and unique feel to the straw. The variation in the diameters of the internodes are due to the randomness of the plant itself and growth factors.
Yields from this bamboo are limited as the species does not grow as tall as other species. The number of farmers growing the plant is low, and what is available is necessary to sustain the endangered panda population. This means the scarcity of arrow bamboo does inflate the price of the finished bamboo straw product.
Wholesale bamboo straws – options
Sourcing Nova has found a much better option for wholesale bamboo straws that are much more consistent in the specific dimensions and availability many want when looking for wholesale bamboo straws. The Phyllostachys heterocycle (Carr.) Mitford cv. pubescens, the moso bamboo,is a much better option.
Phyllostachys pubescens, more commonly called the moso, is one of the oldest species of bamboo grown in China, has the largest percentage of area devoted to its growth and carries the most important economic value of all of the bamboo.
Characteristics of the Phyllostachys pubescens
The individual shoots can reach 20 meters (66 ft.) with diameters over 20 cm (8 in.). The internodes can reach 40 cm (16 in.) or more and the interior walls approximately 1.5 cm (5/8 in.)
Moso grows rapidly, has a high yield and a variety of uses in China. The one drawback is the plant must be harvested with regularity as thinning is necessary to prevent overcrowding and stunted growth in the following year.
The results are straws made from the moso are environmentally friendly and inexpensive to source. Given a five to 10-year growth cycle, moso becomes fully sustainable with annual cuttings and thinning not only necessary but economically viable.
This variety produces shoots within two months and harvestable, mature plants within the same year – proper for paper making materials. As a raw material, the moso requires a minimum of three to six years of growth to reach maturity before harvest.
The largest growing area of the moso is in the Qinling Mountains, Hanshui River Basin to the south of the Yangtze River Basin and Taiwan Province. The Yellow River Basin is also home to a large number of old growth plants. The Japanese first cultivated the moso in 1737 and later spread to the Americas and Europe.
The moso stands in high regard within Chinese culture as a symbol of the national integrity, beauty and practically. The plant is graceful, straight, evergreen, accepted in the world, grows well in adverse conditions and is recognized for its high style. The plant is venerated in poetry, painting and literature and stands as one of the松竹梅,Chinese Three Friends of Cold Weather – the pine tree, plum and moso bamboo. All three are known for their hardiness and tolerance of cold temperatures and thus the moniker.
Phyllostachys pubescens – other uses
The moso’s popularity is seen in many manufacturing plants and processes across China. This includes: wood-based paneling, bamboo flooring, bamboo pulp for paper, furniture, fiber products, charcoal and many of the daily necessities of the Chinese people.
Bamboo straws – bulk production
Today’s bamboo manufacturing is ecologically and environmentally sound. The process:
– Select stands of the bamboo are cut, allowing room for continued growth.
Cut to length
– The raw stalks are brought to the factory and cut to a manageable length of 1.5 – 1.8 m (5 to 6 ft.).
Split and remove nodes
– The bamboo is split lengthwise into eight separate pieces and nodes are removed. Each piece has a width of 1.5 to 3 cm (5/8 to 1 1/4 in.).
– The strips pass through a second set of planers that trim out the remaining nodes, cut the strips into a cylinder and shave the outer coverings for bamboo silk. The length remains constant, but the pieces now have a diameter of to 4 to 9 mm (1/16 to 3/8 in.).
– The bamboo is bundled and moved into a drying oven at a temperature of 50 – 90°C (120 – 195°F) for seven to eight hours. The goal is a moisture content of less than 10 percent – a point that inhibits decay and bacterial growth.
Cut to length
– The larger pieces are now cut to straw length of 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in.). The diameter remains at 4 to 9 mm (1/16 to 3/8 in.). One end is cut with an even, straight cut and the other on a bias for a tip.
– The smaller segments are polished smooth, removing any burrs and stray pieces that can cause injury. The mouth end is beveled to eliminate discomfort in the mouth. The entire polishing process takes one to three hours before the last steps in production.
– The final step is the drill the interior of the straw with a 2 to 7 mm (6 thousandths to 1/4 in.) drill. This yields a final straw of 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in.), exterior diameter of 4 to 9 mm (1/16 to 3/8 in.) and an interior diameter of (6 thousandths to 1/4 in.).
The straw’s diameter is dependent on the initial piece of moso bamboo. Older bamboo will produce a straw with a greater diameter, but the price will be correspondingly more expensive.
The added benefit of the manufacturing process is the diameter and natural spots and discoloration of the bamboo can be removed without chemical bleaching.
The natural fibers of the moso run parallel. This means the bamboo will not absorb water well, resist swelling from liquids and will not need special care to maintain. A few simple cleaning steps will insure your moso bamboo straws will provide plenty of long term usage.
The entire process of changing the original moso bamboo stalk into a food grade, eco-friendly drink ready straw is 100 percent chemical free. Additionally, no changes outside of physical characteristics are made to the bamboo during production. The result is a pure bamboo plant straw that is biodegradable, food safe, ecologically sound and completely sustainable.
Arrow bamboo straw vs. Moso bamboo straw
Both of the bamboos used to make straws in China have their advantages and disadvantages.
The Arrow bamboo has a natural yellow and green husk, is not coated with wax or a lacquer and has the look of natural organic bamboo. The drawbacks are the sizes are variable and difficult to fill orders of consistent sizing.
The Moso bamboo’s manufacturing means the straws can be of uniform size and appearance. There is a much more developed industry with an easily sustainable supply of bamboo. The straws are dehydrated during production and carbonization, the process of unifying the colors equally in a batch can further reduce the moisture content beyond the standard 10 percent.
Sourcing Nova notes that aged bamboo will produce consistent straws with little to no issues with product quality. There are instances where buyers will push for a better price on wholesale bamboo straws. The factories will lower production quality as a consequence and produce straws that will fall far short of your customer expectations.
Sourcing Nova will not try to negotiate a cheaper price. We will work for the best price for the best bamboo straws at the best wholesale price. We have worked hard to build positive relationships with factories across China, and Sourcing Nova will not jeopardize these relationships with attempts to undercut prices.
If you are looking for the natural tube bamboo from the moso bamboo, the materials will be more costly.
Arrow bamboo over three years old has a very dense texture. The only appropriate portion of the bamboo stalk to use for straws is the center main part, averaging three meters (10 ft.) of length. From this, there is an average of 13 total 20 cm (8 in.) straws. The processing creates bamboo straws that retail for approximately $2.00/each. This is not cost effective for Chinese farmers to grow arrow bamboo for anything but panda food.
The majority of bamboo straws sourced wholesale from China are from the moso bamboo. Specifically, the newer bamboo shoots with an appropriate outer husk are labor intensive to harvest.
The newer pieces are less mature than the rest of the bamboo and have several issues as well. The fibers of the newer shoots are widely spaced and hold more water within the fiber cells. These are the most attractive portions of the plant for insect infestation, prone to mildew, difficult to transport, store for shipping and export. Currently, the technology available for natural bamboo straws cannot equal the production levels of the plastic straw. This drastically limits the application prospects for wholesale.
Clean and maintain
Bamboo straws cannot be boiled to sterilize or soaked in water. Either will cause the bamboo to crack and warp. It is normally recommended not to wash bamboo straws in dishwashers, placed in a microwave or in an oven.
Cleaning the bamboo straws require a specific cleaning brush as steel wire will scrape the interior of the straw and drastically shorten the straw’s life.
To clean the straw, use the specialized brush shipped and included in the package of straws. Push the straw gently into the straw, work back and forth a few times for the best results. Place the cleaned straws to air dry without being in direct sunlight.
Special note on how to clean bamboo straws: A thin coat of cooking oil will protect the color, along with regular reapplication.
Best quality bamboo straws – Location
The country has recognized the value of bamboo as an international commodity. The Forestry Ministry has developed a complete plan for the bamboo industry, promote farming across the country and assist farmers financially with programs based around local conditions of the farmer’s province.
The bamboo grows differently in different provinces. The provinces on the eastern coast have a well-developed bamboo industry, strong economic growth and high development potential.
Inland provinces have better bamboo production resources, but the remainder of the bamboo industry lags with a much weaker economy.
Data available from the Forestry Ministry point to bamboo growing best in the Zhejiang, Hunan and Fujian provinces. These three provinces account for almost 78 percent of the country’s bamboo production. The provinces of Jiangxi, Sichuan, Anhui and Guangdong follow.
Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangxi offer the cheapest bamboo straws but lack in technology. This means the demands of the higher quality customers are difficult to meet.
Sourcing Nova notes the absolute best bamboo straws available for wholesale in China come from Fujian.
The Wuyi Mountains in Fujian is the home of the most established of all bamboo manufacturing plants in the country, and it is here that Sourcing Nova has its best manufacturing partner.
For our bamboo straws we recommend wholesale come from the phoebe bamboo of the Wuyi Mountains. Bamboo grown and harvested here is compact and not deeply saturated in water. It is very hardy, highly mold resistant and found naturally in the mountain range.
The majority of wholesalers who order bamboo straws are concerned about one thing – the cost. Sourcing Nova cares more about the quality of the bamboo used and the stability of the raw materials. The factory is a provincial-level key leading enterprise with the full support of the Ministry of Agriculture in the Fujian Province. The factory produces the finest brand of bamboo products across China.
The factory itself is 20,000 square meters (215,275 sq. ft.) and features 64 large-scale machines for making bamboo straws and other products. There is more production capability than small and medium-sized factories.
There is a relatively high MOQ. The tradeoff is the quality and production capacity is stable. Sourcing Nova find this to be the best possible manufacturer for bamboo straw wholesale production.
Sourcing Nova has provided a pretty comprehensive piece on finding quality bamboo straws and wholesale sourcing them. However, there is a chance we missed something. If there is anything you feel we have missed, please let us know in a comment below.