This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
There is the utmost need for the hotel buyer to post himself early on the subject of canned goods. The margins are sometimes as great in proportion to prices as in the case of wines. Some merchants will make astonishingly low prices for ordinary provisions and groceries if the buyer will let them supply the canned goods at list prices. This is because of the great variations of quality of these goods and also the fluctuations in prices dependent upon the fruit or vegetable harvest being good, or otherwise. Goods which retail ordinarily at 20 cents a can may often be bought by the case at 5 or 6 cents, and generally at 10 or 12. Among the fine goods there are grades according to strength of syrup and selection of fruit There are peas which are only dried peas cooked and canned, and others, the finest green June peas, better than if fresh bought in market; but the inexperienced may have to pay as much for one as the other. And the hotel buyer should get everything in gallon cans and kegs, as near as possible, not pay for loads of small bottles, jars and labels.