Wine cellar full of wine

The Importance of Product-Specific Costings

Inventory costings are often an afterthought left to accountants, but they should be a key management tool to drive better decisions.

Good costings can highlight margins within a product range, and successful businesses make calculated decisions around those findings.  Specific product costs provide insight that supports sales and growth strategies and the strategic deployment of capital.

Ask Protea Financial how they can help with your inventory costings.

Insightful costings require forethought, effort, and CPA-level experience. It is common that small- and medium-sized wineries don’t have this experience in-house, so they leave costings to their tax accountants at year-end. The tax accountants are usually pressed for time and focused on getting tax filings right. They can get these right with a simple, quick costing, but the winery loses an opportunity to acquire insight into its business.

Simple (and unhelpful for management, but sufficiently accurate for the IRS) costings typically take a variant of the same shortcut – treating all wines alike, and just dividing total costs by total production. (Some may be slightly more detailed, but still suffer from the same principle.) However, we know all wines are not created or made alike.

Fruit costs, winemaking costs, barrel costs, and packaging costs for each wine are different, and management needs to know the specific costs of each SKU.

With this detailed knowledge, management can:

  • Accurately know the true profit margins for each wine
  • Focus sales and production on the most profitable wines
  • Conduct a profit sensitivity analysis while evaluating sales and production strategies for future vintages
  • Evaluate the return on capital used to expand a specific product line

A proper process for each of these topics merits its own discussion, as well, but these management functions can’t be effectively completed without accurate, product-specific costings. We have seen wineries set prices incorrectly (and not maximize profit), waste precious working capital on production on their less-profitable wines, and lose money on wines because they set marketing and programming budgets using a simple average cost, rather than a product-specific cost.

An insightful costing requires advance coordination between management and accounting in order to establish the procedures for tracking each cost item and knowing how to specifically allocate it to a particular product.

To gain insight into costs, establishing a clear tracking procedure is key for management and accounting teams. This will help to track each cost item and understand how to specifically allocate it to a particular SKU. It is always easier, cheaper, and faster to perform a costing when most of the work has been done in advance.  Waiting until after the wine is bottled to sift through invoices with a tax or other deadlines looming is a recipe for average (or worse) results.


FAQ Section: Product-Specific Costings

  1. What exactly are product-specific costings, and why are they important for businesses in the wine industry?

    Product-specific costings refer to the detailed analysis of costs associated with producing specific wine products. They are crucial for wineries as they provide insights into profit margins, allowing businesses to make informed decisions about sales strategies, production focus, and capital allocation.

  2. How do product-specific costings differ from traditional accounting methods used in the wine industry?

    Unlike traditional methods that treat all wines alike and calculate costs based on total production, product-specific costings delve into individual cost components such as fruit costs, winemaking costs, barrel costs, and packaging costs for each wine SKU. This level of detail enables businesses to accurately assess profitability and make strategic decisions.

  3. What benefits do wineries gain from implementing product-specific costings?

    Implementing product-specific costings allows wineries to accurately determine profit margins for each wine, focus on selling the most profitable products, conduct profit sensitivity analyses for future strategies, and evaluate returns on capital invested in specific product lines. This insight empowers businesses to optimize operations and maximize profitability.

  4. How can product-specific costings help wineries set prices effectively?

    By understanding the true profit margins of each wine through product-specific costings, wineries can set prices more accurately, ensuring they maximize profits without underpricing or overpricing their products. This strategic pricing approach contributes to sustainable growth and competitiveness in the market.

  5. What role does advance coordination between management and accounting play in implementing product-specific costings?

    Advance coordination between management and accounting is essential for establishing procedures to track and allocate costs to specific wine SKUs. By defining clear tracking procedures in advance, businesses can streamline the costing process, improve accuracy, and avoid last-minute rushes that may result in subpar results.

  6. Can you provide examples of how inaccurate costings can impact wineries’ financial performance?

    Inaccurate costings may lead to incorrect pricing decisions, inefficient resource allocation, and missed opportunities for profit maximization. For instance, setting prices based on average costs rather than product-specific costs can result in lost revenue and decreased competitiveness in the market.

  7. What steps can wineries take to ensure accurate and insightful product-specific costings?

    Wineries should establish clear tracking procedures, allocate costs accurately to each wine SKU, and leverage advance coordination between management and accounting teams. Additionally, investing in CPA-level expertise and utilizing specialized tools can enhance the accuracy and depth of cost analysis.

  8. How do product-specific costings contribute to effective sales and growth strategies for wineries?

    By providing insights into profit margins and product performance, product-specific costings enable wineries to tailor sales and growth strategies to focus on the most profitable products. This targeted approach helps businesses capitalize on market opportunities and drive sustainable growth.

  9. Are there specific challenges that wineries may face when implementing product-specific costings?

    Yes, challenges such as data collection, cost allocation complexities, and resource constraints may arise during the implementation of product-specific costings. However, with proper planning, coordination, and investment in expertise, these challenges can be overcome to unlock the benefits of accurate cost analysis.

  10. How can Protea Financial assist wineries with their inventory costings and product-specific analysis?

    Protea Financial offers specialized expertise in inventory costings and product-specific analysis tailored to the unique needs of wineries. With a focus on accuracy, insight, and strategic guidance, Protea Financial helps wineries optimize their financial performance and achieve their growth objectives.