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A direct materials cost variance (sometimes called a materials price variance or MPV) occurs when a company pays a higher or lower price than the standard price set for materials. The direct materials variances measure how efficient the company is at using materials as well as how effective it is at using materials. There are two components to a direct materials variance, the direct materials price variance and the direct materials quantity variance, which both compare the actual price or amount used to the standard amount. To compute the direct materials price variance, subtract the actual cost of direct materials (\$297,000) from the actual quantity of direct materials at standard price (\$310,500). This difference comes to a \$13,500 favorable variance, meaning that the company saves \$13,500 by buying direct materials for \$9.90 rather than the original standard price of \$10.35. There are two components to a direct materials variance, the direct materials price variance and the direct materials quantity variance, which both compare the actual price or amount used to the standard amount.

• The difference in the quantity is multiplied by the standard price to determine that there was a \$1,200 favorable direct materials quantity variance.
• In this case, the actual price per unit of materials is \$6.00, the standard price per unit of materials is \$7.00, and the actual quantity used is 0.25 pounds.
• The material quantity variance can yield unusual results, since it is based on a standard unit quantity that may not be even close to actual usage.
• In that sense, the fixed costs of the company’s production process are not one of the four specific business risks.
• Review this figure carefully before moving on to the next section where these calculations are explained in detail.

These thin margins are the reason auto
suppliers examine direct materials variances so carefully. Any
unexpected increase in steel prices will likely cause significant
unfavorable materials price variances, which will lead to lower
profits. Auto part suppliers that rely on steel will continue to
scrutinize materials price variances and materials quantity
variances to control costs, particularly in a period of rising
steel prices. Recall from Figure 10.1 that the direct materials standard price
for Jerry’s is \$1 per pound, and the standard quantity of direct
materials is 2 pounds per unit. Figure 10.4 shows how to calculate
the materials price and quantity variances given the actual results
and standards information.

## How to Compute Direct Materials Variances

By showing the total materials variance as the sum of the two components, management can better analyze the two variances and enhance decision-making. Like direct materials price variance, this variance may be favorable or unfavorable. If workers manufacture a certain number of units using a quantity of materials that is less than the quantity allowed by standards for that number of units, the variance is known as favorable direct materials quantity variance. On the other hand, if workers use the quantity that is more than the quantity allowed by standards, the variance is known as unfavorable direct materials quantity variance. Figure 10.35 shows the connection between the direct materials price variance and direct materials quantity variance to total direct materials cost variance. Figure 8.3 shows the connection between the direct materials price variance and direct materials quantity variance to total direct materials cost variance.

While we haven’t finished the calculation, it’s smart to pause here for some analysis. You multiply the difference by the standard cost in the next step, turning the material quantity variance into a dollar amount. If that doesn’t help you understand what went wrong to cause a variance, stop here.

• For example, the unfavorable price variance at Jerry’s
Ice Cream might have been a result of purchasing high-quality
materials, which in turn led to less waste in production and a
favorable quantity variance.
• You’ll have a truer sense of your company’s total manufacturing costs when you properly account for variances in price, quantity, and efficiency.
• The direct materials quantity variance should be investigated and used in a way that does not spoil the motivation of workers and supervisors at work place.
• For that reason, the material price variance is computed at the time of purchase and not when the material is used in production.

Commonly used variance formulas for direct materials include the direct material price variance and the direct material quantity variance. Ignore how much you actually paid for raw materials; we’re just trying to quantify the actual vs. expected quantity. To evaluate the price difference, you’re looking for a different accounting formula called the direct material price variance.

You’ll have a truer sense of your company’s total manufacturing costs when you properly account for variances in price, quantity, and efficiency. The material quantity variance can yield unusual results, since it is based on a standard unit quantity that may not be even close to actual usage. If the standard is excessively generous, there will be a long series of favorable material quantity variances, even though the production staff may not be doing an especially good job. Conversely, a parsimonious standard allows little room for error, so there is more likely to be a considerable number of unfavorable variances over time.

## AccountingTools

This is a favorable outcome because the actual price for materials was less than the standard price. With either of these formulas, the actual quantity purchased refers to the actual amount of materials bought during the period. In this case, the production department performed efficiently and saved 40 units of direct material.

## 2: Direct Materials Cost Variance

An unfavorable outcome means the actual costs related to materials were more than the expected (standard) costs. If the outcome is a favorable outcome, this means the actual costs related to materials are less than the expected (standard) costs. Notice how the cause of one variance might influence another
variance. For example, the unfavorable price variance at Jerry’s
Ice Cream might have been a result of purchasing high-quality
materials, which in turn led to less waste in production and a
favorable quantity variance.

## Terms Similar to Material Quantity Variance

Variances are temporary accounts, meaning they must have a zero balance at the end of the accounting period. Managers can better address this situation if they have a breakdown of the variances between quantity and price. Specifically, knowing the amount and direction of the difference for each can help them take targeted measures forimprovement. Pam has no​ skills, no job​ experience, and no alternative employment. Pam pays the rent of ​\$500 a​ year, and her total revenue is ​\$16,000 a year. At the end of one​ year, Pam was offered ​\$1,000 for her business and all its equipment.

Variances occur in most of the manufacturing processes and for almost all cost elements. The ultimate motive behind their calculation is to control costs and enhance improvement. They should not be used as tools to find someone to blame or degrade. A quantity variance is the difference between the actual usage of something and its expected usage.

Whatever the cause of this unfavorable variance, Jerry’s Ice Cream will likely take action to improve the cost problem identified in the materials price variance analysis. This is why we use the term control phase of budgeting to describe variance analysis. Through variance analysis, companies are able to identify problem areas (material costs for Jerry’s) and consider alternatives to controlling costs in the future. 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.

## Responsibility of the variance

For example, a major producer of automotive wheels had to reduce its annual earnings forecast by \$10,000,000 to \$15,000,000 as a result of the increase in steel prices. Reporting the absolute value of the number (without regard to the negative sign) and a “Favorable” label makes this easier for management to read. We can also see that this is a favorable variance just based on the fact that we paid private asset management \$5.60 per board food for our materials instead of the \$6 that we used when building our budget. The direct material variance is usually charged to the cost of goods sold in the period incurred. The material quantity variance is also known as the material usage variance and the material yield variance. The purpose of inventory is to support production process by making material available at time.

Profit margins have been cut in half since steel prices began rising. The direct material variance is also known as the direct material total variance. You can check this video of mine for more examples of the material quantity variance. Now that we know the standard quantity, we can use the DMQV formula to calculate the variance. The first step in the calculation is to figure out how much stuffing material should be used to manufacture 9000 teddy bears (standard quantity).

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