# Incremental Cost: Definition, How to Calculate, and Examples

Certain costs will be incurred whether there is an increase in production or not, which are not computed when determining incremental cost, and they include fixed costs. However, care must be exercised as allocation of fixed costs to total cost decreases as additional units are produced. Incremental cost is the total cost incurred due to an additional unit of product being produced.

Simply put, subtract the cost of one course of action from another. This includes both fixed costs, or costs incurred regardless of output, and variable costs, or those costs that can change depending on output. Analyzing production volumes and the incremental costs can help companies achieve economies of scale to optimize production.

## Qualitative Factors in Differential Analysis

Use differential analysis to decide whether to keep or drop customers. The variable costs are related directly to each product line, and thus are eliminated if the product line is eliminated. For example, if a product line is eliminated, these costs are simply allocated to the remaining product lines. The company also allocates \$50 per item for fixed overhead costs.

Because the sunk costs will remain regardless of any decision, these expenses are not included in incremental analysis. Relevant costs are also called incremental costs because they are only incurred when an activity of relevance has been increased or initiated. Understanding incremental costs can help a company improve its efficiency and save money. Incremental costs are also useful for deciding whether to manufacture a good or purchase it elsewhere.

That is, all variable costs are differential costs for the two alternatives facing the Company. Allocated fixed costs—fixed costs that cannot be traced directly to a product—are typically not differential costs. Sunk costs—costs incurred in the past that cannot be changed by future decisions—are not differential costs because they cannot be changed by future decisions. Opportunity costs—the benefits foregone when one alternative is selected over another—are differential costs, and must be included when performing differential analysis. The long-run incremental cost for lithium, nickel, cobalt, and graphite as critical raw materials for making electric vehicles are a good example. If the long-run predicted cost of the raw materials is expected to rise, then electric vehicle prices will likely be higher in the future.

Conversely, if incremental cost leads to a decrease in product cost per unit, a company can choose to reduce product price and increase profit by selling more units. Incremental costs help to determine the profit maximization point for a company or when marginal costs equal marginal revenues. If a business is earning more incremental revenue (or marginal revenue) per product than the incremental cost of manufacturing or real estate bookkeeping buying that product, the business earns a profit. Incremental costs are relevant in making short-term decisions or choosing between two alternatives, such as whether to accept a special order. If a reduced price is established for a special order, then it’s critical that the revenue received from the special order at least covers the incremental costs. Sales revenue for Product 1 is 75 percent of total company sales.

Incremental cost determines the change in costs if a manufacturer decides to expand production. In essence, it assists a company in making profitable business decisions. The concept of sunk costs describes a cost that’s already been incurred and does not impact any decision made by management or between alternatives. The cost is unlikely to increase in the future or disappear completely.

• They receive a special order for producing Mugs of 1000 units at a rate of ₹ 5/- per unit.
• So, we consider only relevant costs affecting the decision variables.
• The concept of sunk costs describes a cost that’s already been incurred and does not impact any decision made by management or between alternatives.
• Incremental analysis can identify the potential outcomes of one alternative compared to another.

To fully comprehend the concept of incremental analysis, one has to understand its underlying concepts. The three main concepts are relevant cost, sunk cost, and opportunity cost. Differential costs help a manager understand the real cost of a particular course of action. An additional per-unit cost may not reflect the additional costs that come along with pursuing a different plan. For example, many companies may have to add increased capacity if they choose to create more units beyond a certain point. Differential cost allows us to see the cost of that added capacity.

## How Managers Use Differential Cost

In other words, incremental costs are solely dependent on production volume. Conversely, fixed costs, such as rent and overhead, are omitted from incremental cost analysis because these costs typically don’t change with production volumes. Also, fixed costs can be difficult to attribute to any one business segment. (ii) It is profitable for the company to increase the level of production so long as the incremental revenue is more than the differential costs. It is not advisable to increase the level of production to such a level where the differential costs are more than the incremental revenue. In the given problem, the company should set the level of production at 1,50,000 units because after this level differential costs exceed the incremental revenue.

• Differential cost may be referred to as either incremental cost or decremental cost.
• Therefore, knowing the incremental cost of additional units of production and comparing it to the selling price of these goods assists in meeting profit goals.
• The first proposal results into a loss and hence is not acceptable.
• Differential cost allows us to see the cost of that added capacity.
• Differential analysis provides a format for these types of decisions.

Instead of tracing revenues, variable costs, and fixed costs directly to product lines, we track this information by customer. Long-run incremental cost (LRIC) is a forward-looking cost concept that predicts likely changes in relevant costs in the long run. It includes relevant and significant costs that exert a material impact on production cost and product pricing in the long run. They can include the price of crude oil, electricity, any essential raw material, etc. Thus, incremental cost is a product of an increase in production.

## What is Incremental Cost?

The variable cost of each additional widget, which is to say the cost to produce one more widget, is \$20. With the help of activity-based costing, costs can be assigned to activities within each category. Managers use differential analysis to determine whether to keep or drop a customer. The original cost of this store equipment is a sunk cost and should have no bearing on the decision whether to eliminate charcoal barbecues. An opportunity cost is the benefit foregone when one alternative is selected over another. However, management may want a more concise explanation of why profit is \$10,000 higher when all three product lines are maintained.

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As output rises, cost per unit decreases, and profitability increases. Let’s say, as an example, a company is considering increasing their production of goods but needs to understand the incremental costs involved. Below are the current production levels as well as the added costs of the additional units. Incremental analysis is used by businesses to analyze any existing cost differences between different alternatives.

## Special Order Pricing Decision

While the company is still able to make a profit on this special order, the company must consider the ramifications of operating at full capacity. If no excess capacity is present, additional expenses to consider include investment in new fixed assets, overtime labor costs, and the opportunity cost of lost sales. Decisions on whether to produce or buy goods, scrap a project, or rebuild an asset call for incremental analysis on the opportunity costs. Incremental also analysis provides insight into whether a good should continue to be produced or sold at a certain point in the manufacturing process. Rent for the retail store is an example of an allocated fixed cost that is not a differential cost for the two alternatives facing the Company. Allocated fixed costs (also called common fixed costs) are fixed costs that cannot be traced directly to a product line, and therefore are assigned to product lines using an allocation process.

Avoidable costs—costs that can be avoided by selecting a particular course of action— are always differential costs and must be considered when deciding between alternative courses of action. To increase production by one more unit, it may be required to incur capital expenditure, such as plant, machinery, and fixtures and fittings. A restaurant with a capacity of twenty-five people, as per local regulations, needs to incur construction costs to increase capacity for one additional person. As a result, the total incremental cost to produce the additional 2,000 units is \$30,000 or (\$330,000 – \$300,000).

## Relevant Versus Non-Relevant Costs

Marginal cost is the change in total cost as a result of producing one additional unit of output. It is usually calculated when the company produces enough output to cover fixed costs, and production is past the breakeven point where all costs going forward are variable. However, incremental cost refers to the additional cost related to the decision to increase output. Alternatively, once incremental costs exceed incremental revenue for a unit, the company takes a loss for each item produced. Therefore, knowing the incremental cost of additional units of production and comparing it to the selling price of these goods assists in meeting profit goals.

Incremental analysis only focuses on the differences between two courses of action. These different aspects—not similarities—form the basis of the comparison. Incremental analysis is a problem-solving approach that applies accounting information to decision making.

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Managers must often consider the impact of opportunity costs when making decisions. And panel C presents the differential analysis for the two alternatives. The differential analysis in panel C shows that overall profit will decrease by \$10,000 if the charcoal barbecue product line is dropped. As an example of incremental analysis, assume a company sells an item for \$300. The company pays \$125 for labor, \$50 for materials, and \$25 for variable overhead selling expenses.