Direct Material Usage Variance: Definition, Formula, Explanation, Analysis, And Example


Direct Material Usage Variance measures efficiency in material or material consumption by comparing standard material used for actual production units with actual material usages or consumption.

This variance calculation is essential for management to assess if the current production system is running effectively or not.

Negative variance generally means production is not run effectively, and positive variance is normally favorable for management. The direct material usage variance may be divided into mix and yield variances if several materials are mixed in standard proportions.


Direct Material Usage Variance:

= Standard Price (Actual Quantity – Standard Quantity)


= Standard Costs of Actual Quantity – Standard Costs of Standard Quantity

  • Standard price is the price set for a specific product or material at the beginning of the planning/budgeting stage.


Under costing, production and inventories are recorded at the standard cost. The standard quantity of direct materials used to make the products is also recorded at standard cost.

If a manufacturer uses more direct materials than the standard quantity of materials for the products manufactured, the company will have adverse direct materials usage variance.

If the quantity of direct materials used is less than the standard quantity of products manufactured, the company shall have favorable materials usage variance. Both the favorable and adverse variance shall be recorded in a general ledger account.


Favorable usage variance suggests efficient utilization of material resources by the production manager. The various reasons for favorable material usage variance are as follows:

  • Use automated tools and constant improvement of algorithms and intelligence of these AI tools to manufacture or produce.
  • Purchase of materials of higher quality than the standard. This is also reflected in adverse material price variance.
  • Efficient utilization of labor skills
  • Training and development of manufacturing workers and increasing their productivity
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On the other hand, Adverse Usage variance suggests higher consumption of material compared with standard used during the period in question.

This is the responsibility of the production manager, and he shall be accounted for this adverse variance. The various reasons for adverse usage variance are as follows:

  • Using human in manufacturing rather than automated tools which decrease the efficiency and increases the level of error.
  • Ineffective use of skilled labor
  • Purchase of lower quality materials than the standard, which is also reflected in favorable material price variance.
  • Increase in material wastage due to wear and tear in plant and machinery in the manufacturing process


Marvel Inc produced 10,000 items of idols from marvels franchise during November, 2018.

Following raw materials were purchased and consumed by Marvels Inc during the period:

Material Quantity Used Standard Usage per item Actual Price Standard Price
Cloth 100 kgs 11 kg $ 75 per kg $ 70 per kg
Paint 150 kgs 14 kg $ 21 per kg $ 20 per kg
Clay 250 kgs 26 kg $ 11 per kg $ 10 per kg

Direct Material Usage variance shall be calculated as:

We calculate the standard quantity

Cloth 10,000 * 11/1000 110 kgs
Paint 10,000 * 14/1000 140 kgs
Clay 10000 * 26/1000 260 kgs

Now we calculate the variances as:

Material Price Variance = Standard Price (Actual Quantity – Standard Quantity)

Cloth 70 (100-110) $ 700 Favorable
Paint 20 ( 150 – 140 ) $ 200 Adverse
Clay 10 (250 – 260) $ 100 Favorable

Adding all the variances together,

Direct Material Usage Variance = $600 Favorable

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