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Prime costs ignore manufacturing overhead, while conversion costs leave out direct materials. Businesses use both cost formulas to assess profitability and labor efficiency. Conversion costs are the expenses incurred during production to transform raw materials into finished products.

This classification can also be helpful in the budgeting process of a business. Now that you understand the components of prime cost, let’s dive into calculating it. Reusable tableware isn’t considered direct material; as a general rule, direct material must be something the customer can (legally) leave with. However, the little paper umbrellas that adorn every cocktail are counted as direct material since they’re disposable garnishments.

  • Prime costs are the direct costs of producing a product or service, which normally include direct material and direct labor that is identifiable and directly contributes to the products or services.
  • The direct material cost of the chair will include $5 paid to the assembly worker and $2 paid to the paint and polish worker.
  • First, let’s understand some overview of the basic costs structures as below.
  • The primary difference between the two is that the formula for conversion costs takes overhead into account.
  • Labor that is used to service and consult the production of goods is also included in prime costs.

Direct labor includes only wages paid to workers who directly contribute to the formation, assembly, or creation of the product. Direct labor would not include, for example, salaries for factory managers or fees paid to engineers or designers. These employees are involved in the creation of the product concept and the day-to-day operation of the business rather than the hands-on assembly of items for sale.

Explicit Cost: Definition, Types, Calculations and Examples

First, let’s understand some overview of the basic costs structures as below. During June, Excite Company’s prime cost was $325,000 and conversion cost was $300,000. Time-tracking software can help you determine how much time employees spent manufacturing specific products. The indirect manufacturing costs (manufacturing overhead) are not part of the product’s prime cost. Yes, prime cost can help assess the profitability of different product lines by comparing direct expenses to revenue, providing insights into their cost-effectiveness. Overall, the prime cost data help business owners determine lucrative goods and services.

  • Prime cost accounting can help you decide on a product’s selling price or whether to drop a product line in favor of a lower-cost alternative.
  • Prime cost does not include indirect manufacturing costs (overheads) that cannot be precisely mapped on a one-on-one basis to the product, like factory rent, factory electricity charges, etc.
  • Prime cost is defined as the accumulation of all costs directly incurred during the manufacture of a product.
  • When costs are classified by whether they relate to the production of the product or are simply non-production expenses, it is known as classification by function.

However, commissions paid to salespeople who act as intermediaries between the manufacturer and the consumer are included in the prime cost equation. Indirect costs, such as utilities, manager salaries, and delivery costs, are not included in prime costs. One reason why indirect costs are excluded from the prime cost calculation is that they can be difficult to quantify and allocate. Similarly, the direct labor cost of a single bicycle will include $10 paid to the assembly worker, $2 ($8 per hour / 4 bicycles) paid to the worker that paints the bicycles. The compensation paid to the warehouse keeper is not considered as direct labor as it is not attributable to a single bicycle. Prime costs are a great tool to measure the efficiency of the production process.

Prime Cost vs Conversion Vs Factory Cost

Businesses exclude indirect costs from the prime cost calculation because they can be tough to quantify and allocate. These employees are involved in the creation of the product and the day-to-day operation of the business. Moreover, commissions paid to salespeople who work as intermediaries between the manufacturer and the consumer also come under direct labor. Direct labor includes assembly line workers, welders, carpenters, glass workers, painters, and cooks. Still, the prime cost formula only considers the variable expenses, which are directly connected to the production of each item.

How to calculate prime cost?

These profits are generated by selling goods or services in exchange for revenues. Revenues are sale proceeds obtained from the sale of the aforementioned goods or services known as the products of those businesses. After business generate revenues, all the costs related to the products that are sold are subtracted from the revenues, to determine the profit that is generated by the business.

An analysis of the figures also helps control costs, assisting manufacturers in identifying areas where they can optimize resources and reduce expenses. Additionally, it’s instrumental in inventory valuation, as it helps determine the value of raw materials and work-in-progress inventory. You can identify which products or services are more cost-effective and which need optimization. Comparing the prime costs across different offerings helps you drive these insights.

The Formula of Prime Cost:

Prime cost is the aggregate of direct material cost, direct labor cost, and direct expenses. It is also known as ‘flat cost,’ ‘first cost,’ or ‘direct cost.’ Once the cost of raw materials has been ascertained, the cost of direct labor and direct expenses is known. Prime costs are the sum of direct costs incurred during the manufacture of a product. These costs comprise raw material and direct labor in the production process but do not include indirect expenses (e.g., factory rent or supervisor’s salary). To calculate the prime cost formula, take the direct raw materials costs and add them to a business’s direct labor costs, both found on the balance sheet. The two components of prime cost formula are direct materials and direct labor.

Businesses allocate overhead costs among their products based on the amount of indirect resources used to manufacture them. Factory rent, advertising, and supervisors’ wages are some of the most common overhead costs. Prime cost analysis lets companies pinpoint areas where direct expenses can be minimized without compromising product quality or customer satisfaction. It helps negotiate better deals with suppliers for raw materials and optimize labor utilization. Calculate direct material and labor costs to calculate the prime cost in your organization. Prime cost includes all costs directly attributed to the production of output, and consists of expenses like direct material, direct labor, and other direct expenses.

Therefore, the overhead cost is not considered or included as a prime cost. Conversion cost, as the name implies, is the total cost that a manufacturing entity incurs to transform or convert its direct materials into salable or finished product. Typically, it is equal to the sum of entity’s total direct labor cost and total manufacturing overhead cost. It alludes to the expenses of producing products or services that maximize a company’s profit margin. Prime costs determine the direct costs of labor and raw materials used in manufacturing a good. Prime costs are the costs directly incurred to create a product or service.


Subsequently, all other expenses are subtracted from the gross profit to calculate the net profit of the business. The first element of the prime cost calculation is direct materials, which encompass the physical parts that make up your product. Not all production processes are the same, some of them are very hard to separate the direct and indirect cost, and it will incur more cost to get it done while benefits are not much. If the selling price of a product does not adequately cover its prime cost, the company risks operating at a loss. Businesses can set competitive and profitable pricing strategies by analyzing the costs.