March 5, 2024

Conversion costs are also used as a measure to gauge the efficiencies in production processes but take into account the overhead expenses left out of prime cost calculations. Operations managers also use conversion costs to determine where there may be waste within the manufacturing process. Conversions costs and prime costs can be used together to help calculate the minimum profit needed when determining prices to charge customers.

  • It’s applicable when producing more goods than immediate customer demand requires, resulting in inventory accumulation.
  • Conversion costs comprise all manufacturing expenses except raw materials.
  • Prime costs are a crucial metric to measure the profitability of a product and determine the selling price.
  • Moreover, the analysis provides insights into each item’s contribution margin (selling price minus prime cost).
  • These costs are useful for determining the contribution margin of a product or service, as well as for calculating the absolute minimum price at which a product should be sold.

Internal accountants also use these costs to calculate the contribution margin of specific products. Suppose that the cost of the raw materials—lumber, hardware, and paint—totals $200. The furniture maker charges $50 per hour for labor, and the project takes three hours to complete. Some costs, notably labor, are included in each, so adding them together would overstate manufacturing cost.

Sum direct materials and direct labor

The key difference between prime and conversion costs is the calculation of both the costs. The prime cost of a product is calculated by adding all of its direct expenses together. This includes direct material costs of a product which are ignored when calculating the conversion cost of the product.

The production of goods and services involves many different kinds of expenses. A prime cost is the total direct costs, which may be fixed or variable, of manufacturing an item for sale. Businesses use prime costs as a way of measuring the total cost of the production inputs needed to create a given output. By analyzing its prime costs, a company can set prices that yield desired profits. By lowering its prime costs, a company can increase its profit or undercut its competitors’ prices.

  • As a business owner, you can use the prime cost information to identify which products are profitable and which ones are not.
  • Businesses can set competitive and profitable pricing strategies by analyzing the costs.
  • The cost sheet is a document that is used to calculate the cost of a product.
  • When costs are classified by their behavior, they are grouped together based on how these costs change in relation to the level of activity of the business.

However, in construction, the prime cost is the supply of labour, equipment and material which provide by the contractors and bare by the client. This cost will be excluded from the profit mark up by the supplier or contractor. Prime Cost excludes the other indirect material and labor, which will consider as the overhead. It refers to the main costs of production that have a huge impact on the final product. The cost data for prime cost analysis should be highly accurate and reliable to ensure precise evaluation of direct expenses and informed decision-making.

Examples of such expenses include the salaries of production supervisor and factory watchman etc. Prime cost refers to the sum total of costs directly attributable to the manufacture of a product. The raw materials used to produce a finished good, and the cost of hiring workers involved directly in the manufacture of the finished good are the primary direct costs involved in the manufacturing process. Accordingly, prime cost can be said to be a sum of the cost of direct raw materials and direct labor. The prime cost is the sum of the direct costs for materials, labor, and expenses. Also known as direct cost or flat cost, companies estimate it by adding raw material costs, direct labor costs, and direct expenses.


Effective prime cost management facilitates better project implementation, monitoring, and control, reducing cost overruns and wastage. As another example, if the cost object is a sales region, prime costs may also include the cost of maintaining distribution warehouses in that region. Management can also use these costs to establish selling prices for their products. Based on the costs, management can calculate the minimum break even selling price. Then they can use market analysis to see what consumers are willing to pay for products and price their finished goods accordingly.

Examples of prime cost and conversion cost

For example, factory overhead and administrative costs are not part of prime costs. Examples of direct labor workers include welders, machine operators, assemblers and painters etc. The construction, manufacturing, and restaurant industries most often use prime costs to measure financial performance, but any business that sells inventory can calculate prime costs. It will be misleading if the indirect costs are significantly high compare to the total cost. Prime cost only takes into account the direct cost, which will show a high variance compared to the total cost.

In cost accounting, they determine the value of ending inventory on the balance sheet and help calculate the incremental cost of creating a product for pricing purposes. Conversion costs include the direct labor and overhead expenses incurred as raw materials are transformed into finished products. However, prime costs do not include overhead costs, so they are not good at calculating prices that ensure long-term profitability. It excludes all indirect expenses such as advertising and administrative costs. Finally, the factory overheads are also considered when calculating the conversion cost of the chair.

Prime cost vs. conversion cost

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The electricity expense of the factory for a month is $5,000 of which $1,000 is attributed to the chair production process. Furthermore, the rent paid on the factory is $10,000 of which $2,000 is attributable to chair production. To produce these bicycles, a frame is purchased from a supplier costing $10. These are the materials that go directly into the production of the bicycle. Other materials are also purchased for $7 but they do not contribute directly to the production of the bicycle. The conversion cost, when used in conjunction with prime cost, helps reduce waste and gauge other operational inefficiencies that may be present within the manufacturing facility.

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Depreciation is considered an indirect cost and is typically included in a company’s overhead. For instance, manufacturing overhead may include utility costs or the depreciation expense of factory equipment. A company, ABC Co., that manufactures furniture, wants to calculate the conversion cost for the production of a single chair. The company pays a further $3 for paint and other small materials for a chair. In this article, we will cover the prime and conversion costs of a business. This includes the key definitions, examples and key differences between the tow costs.

Forecasting salesperson’s predicted numbers and profits become more precise when integrated prime cost data allows businesses to anticipate revenue streams and identify potential cost fluctuations. It empowers companies to create comprehensive financial plans aligned with their production capabilities and market condition. Direct labor includes the wages paid to employees who produce finished products. These employees can be welders, machinists, painters, or any other person who directly contributes to the production of a product. As a business owner, you can use the prime cost information to identify which products are profitable and which ones are not. You could then raise or lower the prices of unprofitable products, or discontinue production altogether.

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