Raw Materials: Definition, Accounting, and Direct vs Indirect

The material yield variance is the difference between the actual amount of material used and the standard amount expected to be used, multiplied by the standard cost of the materials. CFO Consultants, LLC has the skilled staff, experience, and expertise at a price that delivers value. A business uses a software program to track inventory levels and order materials as needed. The program alerts differential cost accounting for managers the business when inventory falls below a certain threshold, so they can order more material before running out. Materials requirements planning (MRP) is a computer-based production planning and inventory control system. In addition to the $16 million Series A and previous seed rounds totaling $7 million, PNE has been awarded multiple research grants for battery recycling from the U.S.

  • Debiting inventory increases current assets, and crediting cash will reduce cash assets by the inventory amount.
  • MRP systems are an essential tool in manufacturing, as they help to ensure that the right materials are available at the right time.
  • For each overhead item, state whether it is an indirect material expense, indirect labor expense, or other.
  • To identify direct materials, cost accountants typically review bills of materials (BOMs) or other documentation that lists the components or parts required to produce a finished product.
  • If a direct material is set up as an indirect material in an ERP system, it can cause inaccuracies in the cost of goods sold.
  • They can also refer to the ingredients that go into a food item or recipe.

For example, when flour and water are combined to make a dough, this is considered a chemical alteration. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about direct materials, including types and examples. The direct materials for a manufactured product will appear in each product’s bill of materials. The direct materials for a bakery’s products will likely be flour, sugar, eggs, milk, vegetable oil, spices, and other ingredients listed in the bakery’s recipes.

Direct Material = Beginning Inventory + Purchases – Ending Inventory

Raw materials are the input goods or inventory that a company needs to manufacture its products. For example, the steel used to manufacture vehicles would be a raw material for an automobile manufacturer. For manufacturing companies, raw materials inventory requires detailed budgeting and a special framework for accounting on the balance sheet and income statement. Direct materials do not include any materials that are consumed as part of the general overhead of a business.

And reducing carbon emissions and increasing circularity could create 20% more value. Direct materials are the resources directly consumed in producing a good or service. Lately, the cost of lumber has been increasing, and the company has struggled to keep its prices competitive. The CEO decided to explore using different types of wood that are less expensive than the currently used ones. If the materials must be transported from another part of the world, the price will be higher. For example, if steel needs to be imported from China, the cost will be higher than if it is produced in the United States.

Transportation costs

Instead, they are treated as period costs, as office rent or insurance would be. These costs are necessary for production but not efficient to assign to individual product production. Examples of typical overhead costs are production facility electricity, warehouse rent, and depreciation of equipment.

What is the best way to understand direct materials in cost accounting?

The total direct materials cost variance is also found by combining the direct materials price variance and the direct materials quantity variance. By showing the total materials variance as the sum of the two components, management can better analyze the two variances and enhance decision-making. The unique nature of the products manufactured in a job order costing system makes setting a price even more difficult. For each job, management typically wants to set the price higher than its production cost. Even if management is willing to price the product as a loss leader, they still need to know how much money will be lost on each product. To achieve this, management needs an accounting system that can accurately assign and document the costs for each product.


Include the shipping costs your business incurred in the calculation, called freight in. It’s about managing the end-to-end direct materials value chain—from designing, planning, engineering, and sourcing, to making, moving, and servicing finished goods. Yes, water can be thought of as a raw material that is used in a wide range of products and production processes, from beverages to agriculture to industrial uses. If the manufacturing process is complex or involves a lot of labor hours, the cost of producing the material will be higher. For example, making a car requires a lot of metal and plastic parts that are assembled. This process is more expensive than making a simple toy out of plastic that doesn’t require any assembly.

Direct materials are usually high-value items as compared to indirect materials and need strict control and critical analysis to reduce their cost. On the other hand, simple control techniques are sufficient for indirect materials being low-value items. It is important to understand that the allocation of costs may vary from company to company. What may be a direct labor cost for one company may be an indirect labor cost for another company or even for another department within the same company.

Properly allocating overhead to the individual jobs depends on finding a cost driver that provides a fair basis for the allocation. A cost driver is a production factor that causes a company to incur costs. An example would be a bakery that produces a line of apple pies that it markets to local restaurants. To make the pies requires that the bakery incur labor costs, so it is safe to say that pie production is a cost driver. It should also be safe to assume that the more pies made, the greater the number of labor hours experienced (also assuming that direct labor has not been replaced with a greater amount of automation). We assume, in this case, that one of the marketing advantages that the bakery advertises is 100% handmade pastries.

What are Direct Materials?

It is also one of the few line items included in a contribution margin analysis. Standard cost includes direct materials, direct labor, and factory overhead. Next, the interval should be wide enough to capture expenses, such as direct materials, labor, and overhead costs. The direct materials cost is one of the most significant expenses in manufacturing and can significantly impact a company’s profitability.

It is important to fully understand direct materials in cost accounting because they are a significant cost driver in the production of goods and services. Each of the T-accounts traces the movement of the raw materials from inventory to work in process. The vinyl and ink were used first to print the billboard, and then the billboard went to the finishing department for the grommets and frame, which were moved to work in process after the vinyl and ink.

In other cases, it may be more efficient for companies to establish production facilities that directly collect the raw materials. The former path incurs ongoing operating expenses, while the latter path results in arguably less operating costs but greater upfront capital investment. It represents goods on a balance sheet that have not yet been converted to work-in-progress or a finished product.

Scrap is the excess unusable material remaining after a product has been manufactured. Only those items that can be traced back to the source and become a part of the finished product are regarded as direct materials. The same calculation is shown using the outcomes of the direct materials price and quantity variances. Another element this company and others must consider is a direct materials quantity variance. In a movie theater, management uses standards to determine if the proper amount of butter is being used on the popcorn. They train the employees to put two tablespoons of butter on each bag of popcorn, so total butter usage is based on the number of bags of popcorn sold.

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