cost accounting

I want to solve only part 2… plzzz i want it ful…

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By David Axelsson, Marcus Fogelkvist, and Gary M. Cunningham, CPA

Kay Smith is frustrated. The manager of StrategicMarketing Unit Two (SMU2) for Fine Foods,Inc., a provider of branded high quality food
products, Smith is unhappy with what she perceives to be

unfair and inappropriate product costing for her unit,

especially for what Fine Foods considers to be special

orders. Smith’s education, experience, and expertise as a

food scientist and process engineer have earned her con-

siderable respect at Fine Foods, but she has limited

accounting knowledge. This lack of accounting knowl-

edge has inhibited her ability to express and demonstrate

her concerns, which she views as serious. Believing she is

a fast learner with proper guidance, Smith has hired you,

a recent accounting graduate, to develop a draft memo-

randum, a slide presentation, and a glossary of terms to

help her make her case more forcefully to management.

Fine

Foods, Inc.

Fine Foods, Inc., which has its roots in the upper Mid-

west United States, produces a wide range of food prod-

ucts in a competitive industry. Almost all its products are

sold under the Fine ’n’ Fast brand name, which is widely

recognized for its high quality and has a loyal customer

following. Most products are packaged in sizes for end

consumption and are sold through supermarkets, conve-

nience shops, and similar outlets. Depending on the

nature of the product and consumer preferences, prod-

ucts are sold frozen, refrigerated, canned, boxed, or pack-

aged in other ways. Some items, like small individual

packets of ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, are sold to

fast food restaurants and similar outlets. The company

also sells half-gallon containers of salad dressings,

ketchup, mustard, and similar items with a plastic pump

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The Student Case Competition is sponsored annually by IMA®
to provide an opportunity for students to interpret, analyze,

evaluate, synthesize, and communicate a solution to a
management accounting problem.

Product Costing at Fine Foods:
Is It a Symptom or the

Problem?

and branded with the company logo so that restaurant

customers can serve themselves at salad bars and similar

places. Other products are sold, often in bulk, to institu-

tional users such as large food service groups, caterers,

and the like. These products may or may not be branded.

A small portion of sales is made to other food producers,

for example, salad dressing packets are sold to producers

of packaged fresh salad greens. Fine Foods, Inc. doesn’t

deal with fresh products.

Fine Foods, Inc. is owned by Great Plains Capital, a

private equity firm. Great Plains Capital gives Fine Foods

almost complete freedom and control over management,

product selection, performance evaluation, and so forth.

Because it is privately owned, there is no external finan-

cial reporting, nor is there any obligation to use any set of

financial accounting standards for internal reporting. Any

external financial reporting is on a group or consolidated

basis and done by Great Plains Capital.

Great Plains Capital also owns Fine Foods Canada,

Ltd., which sells products almost exclusively in Canada,

with primary operations nearby in the prairie provinces.

Fine Foods, Inc. and Fine Foods Canada, Ltd. don’t have

any mutual ownership in each other, and there’s no man-

agement connection between the two. Because the two

companies produce many identical products using the

Fine ’n’ Fast brand, they do share recipes and process

technology. Fine Foods, Inc. also produces some products

for Fine Foods Canada, Ltd. that don’t have sufficient

market size in Canada to justify separate production.

Great Plains Capital also owns smaller companies with

the Fine ’n’ Fast name that are mostly importers of Fine

’n’ Fast products in countries outside of the U.S. and

Canada where high quality, branded North American

food products have niche markets. These products are

produced by Fine Foods, Inc.

Fine Foods, Inc. (Fine Foods from this point forward) is

organized into three strategic marketing units (SMUs)

based on the markets they serve. SMU1 serves supermar-

kets and similar outlets. SMU2 serves mostly institutional

customers who order in large volumes and often in bulk

quantities. SMU2 also sells special orders from time to

time that involve unbranded bulk products that are

exported. SMU3 serves affiliated Fine Foods companies in

other countries, mostly for import into those countries;

governmental organizations that sell food and have food

service facilities, such as military organizations; and simi-

lar customers that have special contracting requirements.

Products sold by all three SMUs are manufactured by

the same production facilities, including warehouses,

food preparation and cooking facilities, and packaging

facilities. The SMUs also share most headquarters activi-

ties, such as IT, accounting and other administration,

human resources, and similar activities. SMU1 and SMU2

have their own marketing and sales departments, while

there are no separate departments for these tasks in

SMU3. Figure 1 shows an organizational chart for Fine

Foods, Inc.

Cost Allocation
Smith tells you somewhat strongly and persistently that

she believes her unit is being treated unfairly in the way

costs are allocated to products. In particular, she has a

problem with the product cost allocation for special

orders of product MP, a basic product that is widely con-

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TOP MANAGEMENT

SUPPLY CHAIN
MANAGEMENT

ITHUMAN RESOURCESFINANCER&D

SMU2 SMU3SMU1

MARKETING/SALES MARKETING/SALES

Figure 1: Fine Foods, Inc. Organization Chart

sumed in North America. SMU2 is the only unit with

special orders, and almost all the special orders are for

product MP. While all three units sell product MP, it rep-

resents a significantly larger percentage of total sales for

SMU2 than it does for the other two units. SMU1 and

SMU3 don’t perceive a product-costing problem because

a substantial portion of their sales come from other prod-

ucts, which means the product costs for product MP

aren’t a major part of their cost of sales.

After talking with Smith, you review what you learned

in your accounting classes about product costing and

special orders. With this knowledge, you set out to con-

duct an in-depth look at product costing and accounting

for special orders at Fine Foods, especially in SMU2.

The Production Process

In order to learn about product costing at Fine Foods,

you decide you first need to understand the physical flow

of products through production lines. A simplified dia-

gram of the product MP production process, which is

typical of many of the company’s products, is shown in

Figure 2.

Basic raw food items begin production with prelimi-

nary inspection, sorting, and so forth. The raw material

then goes to the first stage of preparation, which can

involve chopping, peeling, and other preparation. Some

preliminary cooking can also take place at this step. After

possible temporary storage, additional ingredients are

added, such as seasonings, flavorings, etc., and the final

cooking and processing occur. The prepared product is

then packaged, frozen, stored temporarily (if necessary),

and then shipped to the customer.

Product Costing

The management of Fine Foods believes that it must allo-

cate all costs to its products in order to get a true and

accurate measure of each product’s profitability. Here’s a

look at the product-costing procedure that would apply

to product MP as well as virtually all

other products.

(Product MP is one of several different products that

come from the same initial raw material but are then

processed and sold in different configurations and pack-

age sizes.)

Raw material, packaging material, and direct produc-

tion salaries are added to determine what Fine Foods calls

direct calculated costs. Electricity, steam, water, and ware-

house costs are then allocated based on estimates and a

mark-up to cover spoilage and other incalculable costs.

This calculation gives an amount the company calls vari-

able manufacturing costs. Material costs are determined

based on the cost required for one unit of product. Direct

salaries are determined by the amount of time normally

required for one unit multiplied by the hourly labor cost.

Fine Foods allocates what it considers to be fixed pro-

duction costs in a complicated process. A list of what Fine

Foods considers to be fixed production costs is shown in

Table 1.

Costs for production management, steam boilers, and

quality are shared by different factories. Estimates are

made about usage of these activities, and costs are allo-

cated to factories based on these estimates. If only one

factory uses a service, the entire cost of the service is allo-

cated to that factory. When these and other costs are

assigned to factories, two approaches are used for further

allocation to product groups (which represent groups of

similar products, such as salad dressings, canned soups

and vegetables, and puddings) and products:

◆ All costs for steam boilers, building maintenance,

vehicles, and sanitation are allocated directly to products

using net weight or gross weight.

◆ Remaining factory costs are first allocated to prod-

uct groups. One allocation is a fixed percentage based on

estimates that don’t change for each product group. Oth-

er costs are allocated based on the weight, labor time, and

A u g u s t 2 0 1 2 I S T R AT E G I C F I N A N C E 4 9

PRODUCTION LINE 1
RECEIVING RAW FOOD

PRODUCTION LINE 2
PREPARATION OF THE

RAW FOOD AND
MIXING WITH
INGREDIENTS

TEMPORARY
WAREHOUSING

PRODUCTION LINE 3
COOKING MP AND
SIMILAR PRODUCTS

PRODUCTION LINE 4
PACKAGING MP AND

OTHER PRODUCTS
WITHIN THE SAME
PRODUCT GROUP

PRODUCT MP
FINISHED AND

DELIVERED

RAW FOOD AND INGREDIENTS PACKAGING MATERIAL

OTHER PROCESSES OTHER PACKAGING OTHER PRODUCTS

Figure 2: Production Process for Product MP

production time of the product produced. If the alloca-

tion of remaining factory costs is a fixed percentage, then

allocation to products is based on production time.

◆ For special orders (virtually all product MP), the

total freight out is accumulated for a month and then

allocated based on the weight of product shipped. The

estimated freight cost is included in the sales price. Simi-

lar procedures are followed for other products, for which

Fine Foods pays the freight.

Media and sales promotion costs for SMU1 and SMU2

are allocated to product groups and to individual prod-

ucts based on weight of product sold.

Fine Foods allocates what it calls other fixed costs in

two ways:

◆ Sales and marketing costs, which are incurred only

in SMU1 and SMU2, are allocated to products based on

sales volume.

◆ Costs for top management, business administration,

information systems, human resources, supply manage-

ment, and logistics are allocated in two steps. Costs are

first allocated to cost centers based on number of

employees, labor time, production time, or set percent-

ages. Then costs are further allocated to products based

on gross sales, amount of time spent on internal reviews,

number of marketing campaigns, quantity sold, number

of orders, net weight of product delivered, or equally to

each product.

Smith is concerned that the amount of costs allocated

to special orders for product MP is excessive and there-

fore causing her unit to be viewed less favorably than the

other units. Among other things, she believes allocations

based on weight are unfair because product MP is a rela-

tively dense, bulky, and heavy product that, while prof-

itable, has a relatively low profit per pound compared to

other products.

Special Orders

Because of Smith’s concerns, you further explore what

Fine Foods considers to be special orders. According to

Smith, a special order is one in which the contract speci-

fies that it can be rejected within one year before delivery;

otherwise it isn’t special. Such special orders constitute

2% of total revenues for Fine Foods.

Virtually all of the special orders are for product MP

and for a food distributor in Mexico. Product MP isn’t a

normal part of the diet of Mexican people, but there is a

niche market for it. The market isn’t large enough to

motivate a Mexican food production company to pro-

duce the item, but Fine Foods is motivated to provide the

items to Mexican food suppliers as so-called special

orders because the company is already producing the

product for a variety of customers in the U.S. and Cana-

da. It’s packaged unbranded for sale in Mexico because it

will be used primarily by institutional food preparers; it’s

shipped frozen in 10-pound packages.

The raw material used to make product MP can be

kept in storage for a fairly long time under proper condi-

tions, and there’s always a ready stock on hand because

it’s used in many other products. Once product MP is

produced, it can be kept frozen for up to one year. These

factors provide a high degree of flexibility in scheduling

production to meet such special orders. Production of

product MP can be readily scheduled when there’s idle

production capacity. Sometimes requests for these special

orders come unexpectedly; other times, SMU2 approach-

es the customer to indicate that idle capacity is planned.

Typically, orders are in relatively large quantities.

SMU2 accepts special orders when the contribution

margin (CM1) is positive. As shown in Table 2, Fine

Foods defines CM1 as net sales minus variable manufac-

turing costs (defined above) and freight out. Smith is

convinced that decisions to accept the special orders are

good for the company and contribute to Fine Foods’

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Table 1: Fixed Production Costs
Allocated to Product MP

Workshop Storage

Environment

Electricity

Maintenance Mechanics

Quality

Engineering

Production Line Maintenance

Production Line Cleaning

Lower Production Management

Handling Raw Material Department

Production Office Services

Production Manager and Related Costs

Warehouse/Storage

Internal Logistics/Resource Planning

Sanitation

Vehicles

Building Maintenance

Steam Boiler

overall profitability, but she’s frustrated at the impact on

the results of her unit’s operations.

Performance Evaluation at Fine Foods
At about the time you were halfway through your project,

you found yourself discussing it with friends and col-

leagues who are also recent accounting graduates. As you

described Smith’s concerns with Fine Foods’ product

costing, as well as your frustration as you attempt to ana-

lyze and develop recommendations, one friend interrupt-

ed to say that the product-costing problem appeared to

be only a symptom of a larger issue. Your friend had

recently covered the issue of symptoms vs. underlying

problems in her management control class, and it seemed

to her that the major issue is performance evaluation of

the SMUs, not product costing.

Somewhat skeptical, you looked at some of your text-

books and other sources to brush up your knowledge of

performance evaluation. You then explored performance

evaluation at Fine Foods. You began by speaking to Peter

Jones, the controller of Fine Foods, Inc., who explained

how the company computes CM1, CM2, CM3, CM4, and

operating profit for each unit (see Table 2). Jones said the

SMUs have the ability to control the costs of their divi-

sions, and other costs are allocated easily and fairly. Targets

are established for CM1, CM2, CM3, CM4, and operating

profit, and the numbers are reviewed monthly to see if cor-

rective action is necessary. Evaluation of performance

against the targets is made at the end of the year.

Smith, however, tells you that the primary evaluation

for the SMUs is operating profit. This is confirmed by

SMU2’s controller and another unit controller. Smith

feels the method used by Fine Foods to calculate operat-

ing profit doesn’t reflect the true performance of the

SMUs because unit management can’t control several of

the cost elements included in the calculation. Further, she

believes using operating profit as the primary indicator

for evaluating units has a negative motivational effect on

the employees of her unit.

Your Report
With your analysis complete, you are ready to present

your findings. For better organization, you decide to

divide everything into four sections: product costing, spe-

cial orders, performance evaluation, and conclusions and

recommendations.

Part 1: Product Costing

1. Develop a glossary of terms and definitions to be used

by Smith in her presentation and discussions to ensure

consistency and mutual understanding of terms. In addi-

tion to definitions, provide a brief description of the

applicability of terms to Fine Foods. The glossary should

include, but not be limited to:

◆ Cost object

◆ Cost driver

◆ Product vs. period

◆ Fixed vs. variable

◆ Direct vs. indirect

◆ Incremental and common

◆ Relevant vs. irrelevant

◆ Controllable vs. Noncontrollable

◆ Dual allocation (sometimes called departmental)

◆ Volume allocation

◆ Activity-based allocation

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Table 2: Contribution Margins
and Operating Profit

Gross sales

(Standard discounts)

(Activity discounts)

(Special discount activities for customers)

Net sales

(Variable manufacturing cost)

(Fixed manufacturing cost)

(Freight out)

CONTRIBUTION MARGIN 1

(Media)

(Sales promotion)

CONTRIBUTION MARGIN 2

(Marketing and sales)

CONTRIBUTION MARGIN 3

(Top management)

(Business administration)

(Information system)

(Human resources)

(Supply chain)

(Production)

(External logistics for finished goods)

(Markup – Manufacture expenditures)

(Other fixed costs)

CONTRIBUTION MARGIN 4

(Structural costs)

(Total depreciation)

OPERATING PROFIT

2.

Write a draft of a memorandum that Smith can present

to her colleagues and management to support her case. The

memo should include, but not be limited to, an analysis of

current product costing approaches used at Fine Foods,

Inc., changes she should recommend, and the extent to

which the recommend changes would resolve her concerns.

Part 2: Special Orders

Write a draft of a memorandum that Smith can present

to her colleagues and higher management that focuses on

what Fine Foods calls special orders. The memo should

include, but not be limited to:

◆ A description of the accounting and other consider-

ations that should be considered with respect to special

orders.

◆ A brief definition of the terms “by products” and

“joint products” and the extent to which these items

apply to special orders at Fine Foods, if at all.

◆ Identification of all the benefits that Fine Foods

receives from special orders.

◆ An analysis of the way Fine Foods, Inc. handles its

special orders and any recommended changes

Part 3: Performance Evaluation

1. Develop a glossary of terms and definitions to be used
by Smith in her presentation and discussions to ensure
consistency and mutual understanding of terms. In addi-
tion to definitions, provide a brief description of the
applicability of terms to Fine Foods. The glossary should
include, but not be limited to:

◆ Types of responsibility centers:

• cost centers

• revenue centers

• profit centers

• investment centers

◆ Computation methods of monetary amounts to

evaluate performance:

• contribution margin

• operating profit

• return on investment

• residual income and similar value-added

approaches, such as EVA™

◆ Agency costs

2. Prepare a draft of a memorandum for Smith to pre-

sent to her colleagues and management that includes, but

isn’t limited to:

◆ What roles do performance-evaluation and reward

systems play in organizations? Discuss individual vs.

team-based performance evaluation in this context. Are

these roles relevant for all types of organizations and

employees? To what extent, if any, do these roles apply to

Fine Foods?

◆ Discuss basic concepts of performance evaluation,

particularly results control. Discuss issues of financial vs.

nonfinancial performance in this context.

◆ What types of responsibility centers are the SMUs in

Fine Foods? Are these appropriate types of responsibility

centers for Fine Foods? Why or why not?

◆ Identify potential agency costs that might occur

within Fine Foods. Discuss performance measurement

(monitoring) and incentive systems as mechanisms to

decrease agency costs at Fine Foods. Identify and discuss

any recommendations to implement a reward system.

Analyze the extent to which your recommendations

would solve the issues that concern Smith and would

decrease agency costs.

◆ Analyze the performance evaluation approaches at

Fine Foods. Identify and discuss any changes you might

recommend. Analyze the extent to which these changes

would resolve the issues raised by Smith.

Part 4: Conclusion and Recommendations

1. Prepare a draft memorandum for Smith to present to

her colleagues and management that gives recommenda-

tions for changes and discusses their benefits for the

company as a whole.

2. Prepare a draft of an executive summary of the entire

memorandum (Parts 1-4).

3. Prepare a slide presentation for Smith to use when

presenting the memorandum to her colleagues and

management. SF

David Axelsson is the accountant and controller for an

expanding wholesaler and a board director for a local

savings bank and a family company that distributes

consumer goods. You can contact David at

davidaxelsson1987@hotmail.com.

Marcus Fogelkvist is a research and development group con-

troller in a large consumer goods manufacturing company.

You can reach him at marcus.fogelkvist@gmail.com.

Gary M. Cunningham, CPA, Ph.D., is Visiting Professor of

Accounting at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

You can reach him at gcunning@abo.fi.

The authors acknowledge the valuable assistance of

Dr. Catherine Lions in preparation of the case.

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