Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:
- More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
- Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
- Advanced search features
- Ad free!
Financial Definition of UNIT COST
What It Is
Unit cost is a measure of a company's cost to build or create one unit of product.
How It Works
For example, let's assume that it costs Company XYZ $10,000 to purchase 5,000 widgets that it will resell in its retail outlets. Company XYZ's unit cost is:
$10,000 / 5,000 = $2 per unit
Often, calculating unit cost isn't so simple, especially in manufacturing situations. Usually, unit costs involve variable costs (costs that vary with the number of units made) and fixed costs (costs that don't vary with the number of units made).
For example, at XYZ Restaurant, which sells only pepperoni pizza, the variable expenses per pizza might be:
Total: $5.56 per pizza
Its fixed expenses per month might be:
If company XYZ sells 10,000 pizzas, then its unit cost would be:
Unit Cost = $5.56 + ($5,650 / 10,000) = $6.125
Why It Matters
Knowing unit cost helps business owners determine when they'll begin to turn a profit and helps them price their products with that in mind. It provides a dynamic overview of the relationships among revenues, costs, and profits.
However, typical variable and fixed costs differ widely among industries. This is why comparison of break-even points is generally most meaningful among companies within the same industry, and the definition of a "high" or "low" break-even point should be made within this context.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up unit cost? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).