This is because they are both required to complete the production of that specific item. Conversion costs include the direct labor and overhead expenses incurred as raw materials are transformed into finished products. Prime costs and conversion costs are relied upon heavily in the manufacturing sector to measure efficiency in the production of a product. Prime costs are expenditures directly related to creating finished products, while conversion costs are expenses incurred when turning raw materials into a product. Conversion Costs can be defined as the aggregated costs that include direct labor, and manufacturing overhead costs. They are referred to as the manufacturer’s production related cost, which does not include the costs incurred in production of direct materials.

Hence, using conversion costs is an efficient way of calculating equivalent units and per unit costs rather than separately calculating direct labor and manufacturing overheads. ABC International incurs a total of $50,000 during March in direct labor and related costs, as well as $86,000 in factory overhead costs. Therefore, the conversion cost per unit for the month was $6.80 per unit (calculated as $136,000 of total conversion costs divided by the 20,000 units produced). The amount spent on direct materials and direct labor is included in the calculation of prime costs. Direct materials comprise tangible components, such as raw materials, that are required to generate a final product. The engine of a car, for example, and the spokes of a bicycle are both included in direct material costs.

During a month, Company B spends $55,000 on direct labor and $66,000 on plant overhead. For instance, the engine of a car and the spokes of a bicycle are considered direct material costs because they are necessary to complete the production of those items. Some costs, notably labor, are included in each, so adding them together would overstate manufacturing cost. Both these components are added together in order to arrive at the figure for conversion costs for the company for the particular year. This is the cost of directly manufacturing the product, such as wages, salaries to workers, pension funds for workers, production staff insurance, supervision, and so on. Conversion costs are vital to be calculated by each company
since they are fundamental for making important business decisions and carrying
out basic accounting tasks.

During a month, Company B has a total cost of $55,000 in direct labor and $66,000 in factory overhead costs. The pay, wages, or perks provided to an employee who works on the completion of all final items are considered direct labor costs. Prime costs are frequently calculated using compensation provided to machinists, painters, or welders. Prime costs, unlike conversion costs, do not contain any indirect costs. The manufacturing sector analyses both prime costs and conversion costs to measure efficiency in the production of a product.


Factories must use electricity to power their machines and produce products, but each dollar of electrical costs can’t be directly tied back to the products that were produced. Please keep in mind that depreciation charges, insurance expenses, cost expenses, and electricity expenses are all considered manufacturing overhead. Hence, they must be included in our calculation with direct labor costs. Expressed another way, conversion costs are the manufacturing or production costs necessary to convert raw materials into products.

Therefore, once the batch of sticks gets to the second process—the packaging department—it already has costs attached to it. In other words, the packaging department receives both the drumsticks and their related costs from the shaping department. For the basic size 5A stick, the packaging department adds material at the beginning of the process. The 5A uses only packaging sleeves as its direct material, while other types may also include nylon, felt, and/or the ingredients for the proprietary handgrip. Direct labor and manufacturing overhead are used to test, weigh, and sound-match the drumsticks into pairs. Thus, conversion costs are all manufacturing costs except for the cost of raw materials.

  • Although the prime cost is computed and given at the start of the cost sheet, there is a fixed standard that requires the computation of conversion cost until and unless the manager demands it.
  • They are used to measure the efficiency of a certain product’s production.
  • For example, in the case of a phone manufacturer, the cost unit would be “per unit of phone.” It is critical to define cost units in order to accurately charge the costs incurred in all manufacturing processes.
  • Increases in crude oil prices are likely to impact the costs of generating electricity which is significant in manufacturing costs.
  • A cost unit is a product or service unit to which manufacturing costs can be assigned.

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. Prime costs are reviewed by operations managers to ensure that the company is maintaining an efficient production process. Conversion costs are calculated in order to know the cost per unit, which assists the company in deciding a price for the product. Overhead costs are factored into a company’s conversion costs because they are required for the transition of raw resources into final costs.

Materials and labor together are prime costs, while labor and overhead are conversion costs. The true cost a company uses in the process of turning raw materials into finished goodsincludes both overhead and direct labor. Managerial accountants and production managers measure these conversion costs to estimate production expenses, develop product-pricing models, and estimate the value of finished inventory.

Companies that manufacture inventory rely largely on metrics to track production and analyze the efficiency with which inventory is manufactured and sold. Conversion costs are one of the most widely used metrics for this.This indicator refers to the costs of converting raw materials into sellable goods. In this post, we will define conversion cost, describe common ones that a business may face, the formula for calculating it, and provide examples of how to use it for accounting in your firm.

CONVERSION COST: Definition, Formula, and Calculations

Operations managers examine prime costs to ensure that the company’s production process is efficient. The calculation of prime costs also assists firms in setting prices that create an acceptable amount of profit. The primary difference between the two is that the formula for conversion costs takes overhead into account. For this reason, it’s a more relevant number for operations managers, who may be looking at ways to reduce the indirect expenses of production. Direct labor costs include the salaries, wages, and benefits paid to employees who work on the finished products.

Prime Costs vs. Conversion Costs: An Overview

However, a difference between prime costs and conversion costs that has not been incorporated in the analysis above is the fact that conversion costs also include indirect labor. Some of the same expenses are included in both prime costs and conversion costs. Prime costs and conversion costs, for example, will both include direct labor costs in their estimates. Like prime costs, conversion costs are used to gauge the efficiency of a production process, but conversion cost also takes into account overhead expenses that are left out of prime cost calculations.

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CPA Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

Managers can view this information on the importance of identifying prime and conversion costs from Investopedia, a resource for managers. Assume that direct materials cost $700, direct labor is $500, and factory overhead is $300 for cabinets that have been manufactured. This information helps managers know where to focus their attention when planning, directing and controlling costs. It is easier to track the materials and conversion costs for one batch and have those costs follow the batch to the next process. A company’s accounts managers and production managers calculate these conversion costs to estimate the production expenses, and the value of the finished and unfinished inventory, and make product-pricing models.

Many of the same production characteristics are used by both conversion and prime cost, but each has a distinct perspective on product efficiency. To complete a product, prime cost includes both direct material and direct cost, ‎receipts by wave on the app store whereas conversion cost does not. For example, prime cost does not contain overhead charges that are applied in conversion cost. The prime cost’s major goal is to set the price of a product with the intended profits.

TIMES EARNED INTEREST RATIO (TIE Ratio): Definition, Formula and Uses

Consider a professional furniture maker who is hired to make a coffee table for a customer. The prime costs for creating the table include the cost of the furniture maker’s labor and the raw materials required to construct the table, including the lumber, hardware, and paint. Conversion costs only include direct labor and manufacturing overheads because of the reason that these two variables are rudimentary to execute the overall process. These costs can’t be traced back to a single unit in the production process. Some other examples of manufacturing overheads are insurance, building maintenance, machine maintenance, taxes, equipment depreciation, machining, and inspection.

Prime Costs vs. Conversion Costs: What’s the Difference?

The conversion cost is also used to calculate the cost of sales, which is reported on the income statement. Because closing inventory is a line item on both the income statement and the balance sheet, estimating its value is simple. Direct labor costs are the same as those used in prime cost calculations. In this regard, it is important to consider the fact that costing for production concerns is even more important in comparison to trading concerns because it provides a baseline on which the company decides the way forward. The calculation of the cost of sales, which is reported on the income statement, also depends on the conversion cost. Assume that there was no work in process inventory at the beginning and at the end of the accounting period.

Simultaneously, the prime cost is another costing phrase that quantifies the value of direct material, direct labor, and other direct expenses incurred in the manufacture of a certain product. They are used to measure the efficiency of a certain product’s production. The calculation for prime costs includes the amounts spent on direct materials and direct labor.