# A Guide to Understanding Materials Quantity Variance

Direct materials quantity variance is also known as direct material usage or volume variance. Finish the materials quantity variance calculation by multiplying the difference of the standard and actual quantities by the standard cost. Find the materials quantity variance by multiplying the standard cost by the difference between the standard and actual quantities. 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.

A materials quantity variance compares the actual and expected direct material used in manufacturing a product. You have an unfavorable materials quantity variance when you use more material than expected. 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.

Of course, variances can be caused by production snafus, such as an excessive amount of scrap while setting up a production run, or perhaps damage caused by mishandling. It can even be caused by the purchasing department ordering materials that have an excessively low quality, so that more material is scrapped during the production process. Before you start production, estimate the amount of direct material used in one product or manufacturing run. Our writing and editorial staff are a team of experts holding advanced financial designations and have written for most major financial media publications.

## Estimate the standard material quantity

Don’t expect 100% of your raw materials to end up in the final product. Some spoilage — the loss of raw materials in the manufacturing process — is normal and acceptable. Excessive loss of raw materials during production, called abnormal spoilage, is cause for concern, however. With the help of machinery and other equipment, workers create finished goods that once started as raw materials. If your business makes fancy bow ties, the direct material is silk, for instance. Standard direct material usage refers to the amount of materials allowed to be used per unit produced.

Don’t immediately blame inferior raw materials or your factory workers for an unfavorable materials quantity variance. When you calculate the variance, you’re comparing actual material usage to what you expected. It could be that the expectation you created in the product development process is askew. If a company’s actual quantity used exceeds the standard allowed, then the direct materials quantity variance will be unfavorable. This means that the company has utilized more materials than expected and may have paid extra in materials cost.

Our work has been directly cited by organizations including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Investopedia, Forbes, CNBC, and many others. To calculate Sales Quantity Variance, subtract the actual sales volume from the budgeted sales volume. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content. Before the year is out, you want to clear out all variance accounts to the cost of goods sold.

## Overview: What is a materials quantity variance?

Variances are temporary accounts, meaning they must have a zero balance at the end of the accounting period. Say you’re a professional baker who’s famous for your delectable peach cobbler. You expect about 5% of the peaches you order from a local farm to go bad between purchasing and baking day. Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs. This team of experts helps Finance Strategists maintain the highest level of accuracy and professionalism possible.

You’re most likely to run into an unfavorable materials quantity variance because of one of the following issues. When you get a negative difference, you say there’s an unfavorable variance. The material quantity variance is also known as the material usage variance and the material yield variance. In a multi-product company, the total quantity variance is divided over each of the products manufactured. The debits and credits would be reversed for favorable materials quantity variances.

• If your business makes fancy bow ties, the direct material is silk, for instance.
• Factory workers who receive insufficient training won’t work at maximum efficiency, wasting more material than is necessary for production.
• You can uncover issues in your company’s manufacturing process by looking at your direct materials quantity variance.
• The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
• A materials quantity variance compares the actual and expected direct material used in manufacturing a product.
• 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.

As raw materials move into production, you record a transfer from the raw materials stage to the WIP stage. You use estimated prices and quantities to show the movement on your books. Your materials quantity variance will increase because you’ll have to buy more peaches to make the same number of cobblers. Enter the budgeted sales volume (units) and the actual sales value (units) into the Calculator. To make a batch of carrot cakes, you expect to use 60 pounds of carrots. Businesses calculate variances to understand the difference between estimated and actual total manufacturing costs.

## Formula For Direct Materials Quantity Variance

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• If it’s not because of defective materials, look into how your factory workers are trained.
• Variances are temporary accounts, meaning they must have a zero balance at the end of the accounting period.
• Our team of reviewers are established professionals with decades of experience in areas of personal finance and hold many advanced degrees and certifications.
• Ignore how much you actually paid for raw materials; we’re just trying to quantify the actual vs. expected quantity.

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## If a company’s actual quantity used exceeds the standard allowed, what would the variance be?

A favorable materials quantity variance indicates savings in the use of direct materials. An unfavorable variance, on the other hand, indicates that the amount of materials used exceeds the standard requirement. A material quantity variance points to a lack of efficiency during the manufacturing process. If it’s not because of defective materials, look into how your factory workers are trained. Factory workers who receive insufficient training won’t work at maximum efficiency, wasting more material than is necessary for production.

Thus, the standard used to derive the variance is more likely to cause a favorable or unfavorable variance than any actions taken by the production staff. Under the standard costing system, you record inventory at its standard quantity and use a separate account to show variances. Prepare a journal entry once you finish the materials quantity variance calculation. The standard cost is the amount your business expected to pay for each unit of raw material.

Businesses that use the standard costing system to value inventory need to estimate standard prices and quantities for all direct materials. You’ll use those figures to track the manufacturing process in your accounting software. Direct materials move from raw materials to work in process (WIP) to finished goods as they’re transformed into saleable products.

Abnormal spoilage increases the amount of raw material consumed in manufacturing, creating an unfavorable materials quantity variance. Low-quality raw materials, broken machinery, and inadequately trained workers may be to blame for abnormal spoilage. The materials quantity variance is one of several cost accounting metrics that manufacturers review to measure manufacturing efficiency. Keeping an eye on variances helps manufacturers identify and remedy issues as they crop up. The material quantity variance is a subset of the quantity variance, since it only applies to materials (or, more accurately, direct materials) that are used in the production process.