What is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) & How to Calculate it

February 27, 2024

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) may seem like just another entry in your financial spreadsheet, but it's far more crucial than many realize. Struggling to track where your business's money goes each month? Curious about the real cost of producing the goods or services you sell? 

In this blog, we'll explore what COGS is, how to calculate it, and offer expert tips for reducing it to improve your business's bottom line. Let's dive deep into understanding COGS together, shall we?

What is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)?

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the direct cost attributable to the production of the goods sold by a company. This figure includes the cost of the materials and labor directly used to create the product but excludes indirect expenses such as distribution and sales force costs. 

COGS is a critical metric for businesses as it affects the company's gross margin and profitability. Understanding your COGS can help you make informed decisions about pricing, sales strategies, and inventory management, directly impacting your bottom line.

Why is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) Important?

The significance of COGS extends far beyond a mere number on your financial statements. It is essential for several reasons:

  1. Profitability Assessment: It helps determine the gross profit by subtracting COGS from revenue. A lower COGS means a higher gross profit margin, showcasing effective management of production resources.

  2. Pricing Strategy: Knowing your COGS is crucial for setting competitive yet profitable prices. It also offers insights into potential cost-saving areas.

  3. Inventory Management: Through COGS calculation, businesses can monitor their inventory levels, facilitating better inventory turnover and reducing the risk of obsolete stock.

  4. Financial Forecasting: Reliable COGS data aids in crafting accurate financial forecasts, allowing for better planning and decision-making regarding production and expenses.

  5. Taxation: COGS can significantly affect a business's taxable income since it's often deductible. Accurate calculation ensures compliance and optimization of tax liabilities.

Overall, a thorough understanding and management of COGS can illuminate aspects of your business's financial health, operational efficiency, and strategic direction.

What is Included in Cost of Goods Sold?

The components that form the cost of goods sold can vary depending on the nature of the business but generally include:

  • Raw materials and items purchased for resale: These are the primary materials and goods bought to manufacture a product or to resell to customers.

  • Direct labor costs: Wages paid to employees directly involved in the production process

  • Manufacturing overheads: Costs indirectly associated with manufacturing, such as utilities for the production site, storage costs, and factory overhead, which are necessary to support the manufacturing process

  • Supplies used in production: Any supplies that are consumed during the manufacturing of the product

  • Freight-in costs: The costs associated with bringing raw materials to the production site or goods to be resold to the business

  • Container costs: Packaging and containers used for the product

Understanding these components is crucial for accurately calculating COGS and identifying areas where costs can be reduced without compromising quality.

What Does Cost of Goods Sold Exclude?

It's equally important to recognize what COGS does not include. This metric excludes indirect expenses, such as:

  • Selling, General, and Administrative Expenses (SG&A): Costs related to selling and managing the business, like marketing and office expenses.

  • Interest Expenses: Costs associated with borrowing money.

  • Non-Production Salaries: Salaries not directly tied to the production process, such as those of salespeople, managers, and administrative staff.

Distinguishing between direct and indirect production costs helps maintain clarity in financial analysis and ensures that COGS reflects only the expenses directly tied to production.

Cost of Goods Sold Formula (COGS Formula)

The cost of goods sold formula is straightforward but requires accurate record-keeping to ensure precision. To calculate COGS, you can use the following equation:

Beginning Inventory + Purchases during the period − Ending Inventory = COGS

This formula helps you ascertain the total cost of goods your business sold over a specific period. By keeping meticulous records of your inventory and purchases, you can accurately find your COGS and make informed decisions about pricing and cost management.

Beginning Inventory

This is the value of the goods you have in stock at the beginning of the period. It includes the cost of any materials used in production as well as the direct labor costs associated with these goods.

Purchases During the Period

This includes all additional inventory purchased during the accounting period. Remember to only account for the costs directly related to production, such as raw materials and direct labor.

Ending Inventory

Ending inventory refers to the value of goods that are unsold at the end of the accounting period. This will become the opening inventory for the next period.

How to Calculate Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

To calculate COGS, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the value of your beginning inventory (the cost of ingredients or merchandise on hand at the beginning of the accounting period).

  2. Add the cost of purchases made during the period (the total amount spent on acquiring additional ingredients or merchandise).

  3. Subtract the value of ending inventory (the cost of ingredients or merchandise remaining unsold at the end of the accounting period).

Examples of COGS

Let's illustrate with examples from different industries:

Example for Retailers:

Suppose you own a boutique clothing store. At the beginning of the month, your inventory—consisting of dresses, shirts, pants, and accessories—is valued at $20,000. Throughout the month, you decide to replenish your stock with the latest fashion trends and purchase an additional $5,000 worth of inventory. After selling various items, you perform a stock take by the month's end and discover your inventory is now worth $10,000.

To calculate your COGS, you would use the formula:

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases during the period - Ending Inventory

COGS = $20,000 + $5,000 - $10,000 = $15,000

This $15,000 represents the direct cost of the goods your store sold over the month. Knowing this figure helps you understand the direct expenses tied to your sales, crucial for pricing and profit analysis.

Example for Manufacturers:

Let’s say you run a small furniture manufacturing company. You start the period with $30,000 worth of materials (wood, nails, varnish) and parts (screws, hinges) as your beginning inventory. During the month, you purchase an additional $10,000 raw materials to continue production without interruption. By the end of the month, after producing and selling various pieces of furniture, your remaining inventory is valued at $15,000.

Your COGS calculation would be as follows:

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases during the period - Ending Inventory

COGS = $30,000 + $10,000 - $15,000 = $25,000

This calculation reveals that $25,000 is the direct cost of manufacturing the goods sold during the month. It highlights the cost-effectiveness of your production process and can be used to assess areas for potential savings or efficiency improvements.

Example for Restaurants:

Suppose you operate a renowned sushi and sashimi restaurant. At the start of the month, your kitchen's inventory, stocked with fresh fish, rice, seaweed, vegetables, and specialty sauces, is valued at $8,000. To maintain the highest quality of ingredients and keep up with demand, you purchase $22,000 worth of additional fresh fish and other necessary supplies throughout the month. By the month's end, after delighting customers with your exquisite dishes, you find yourself with $5,000 worth of inventory remaining.

The COGS for your restaurant is calculated as follows:

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases during the period - Ending Inventory

COGS = $8,000 + $22,000 - $5,000 = $25,000

This $25,000 represents the direct cost of the sushi and sashimi sold during the month. For a specialty restaurant like yours, managing COGS efficiently is critical. It directly influences menu pricing, portion sizes, and overall profitability. A keen understanding of COGS is invaluable for decisions related to menu pricing strategies, negotiating with suppliers for the best quality ingredients at optimal prices, and minimizing waste to ensure sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Average Cost of Goods Sold for Restaurants

The average COGS for restaurants typically ranges between 30% to 35% of sales, but this can vary widely depending on the type of restaurant and its menu. Keeping COGS within this range is vital for maintaining a sustainable restaurant profit margin.

What are the Different Accounting Methods for COGS?

The method you choose to calculate COGS can significantly impact your business's financial statements. Let’s explore the four most common inventory costing methods:

1. First-in-first-out (FIFO)

This method assumes that the first items added to your inventory are the first ones sold. FIFO is particularly useful in times of rising prices, as it can lead to lower COGS and higher profits. However, it may also result in higher taxes.

2. Last-in-first-out (LIFO)

Contrary to FIFO, LIFO assumes the last items to be added to your inventory are the first sold. This method can be advantageous in reducing taxable income during inflationary periods but may not accurately reflect your ending inventory's actual value.

3. Weighted Average

The weighted average method calculates COGS based on the average cost of all items in inventory, regardless of when they were purchased. This approach smooths out price fluctuations over time, offering a middle-ground perspective on COGS.

4. Specific Identification

For businesses dealing with unique or high-value items, the specific identification method tracks the exact cost of individual items sold. While precise, it requires meticulous record-keeping and is less common in mass production.

Each method impacts the reported COGS differently, and the choice depends on your business model and financial strategy.

How to Lower the Cost of Goods Sold

Reducing your COGS can significantly impact your business's profitability. Here are some actionable tips and best practices to help you manage and reduce your COGS effectively:

1. Optimize Your Supply Chain: 

Streamlining your supply chain can lead to substantial savings. By analyzing and optimizing your logistics, you can cut shipping costs, secure better deals with suppliers, and choose materials that offer the best value for money without compromising on quality.

2. Bulk Purchasing: 

Buying materials in bulk often results in volume discounts. While this approach can lower per-unit costs, consider the implications of increased storage costs and potential spoilage, especially for perishable items.

3. Streamline Production Processes

Analyze your production processes to identify inefficiencies. Implementing lean manufacturing principles can help reduce waste and lower labor costs.

4. Regular Inventory Audits: 

Keeping a tight rein on your inventory through regular audits can prevent overstocking and minimize losses due to spoilage or outdated stock, which in turn aids in maintaining an accurate COGS.

5. Technology and Automation: 

Invest in technology and automation where feasible. This can reduce labor costs and improve efficiency, leading to lower COGS. 

In sectors like hospitality, investing in restaurant technology—such as restaurant POS systems, self-ordering kiosks, QR code menus, and handheld POS devices—can significantly cut labor costs and improve operational efficiency, contributing to lower COGS.

6. Vendor Negotiation and Relationships: 

Build strong relationships with your suppliers and negotiate for better pricing or payment terms. Consider alternative suppliers if current prices are too high, but ensure quality is not compromised.

7. Waste Reduction: 

Reducing waste is crucial in every business, especially where perishable goods are involved. Implement systems to monitor and minimize waste, whether it’s through better inventory management, improved process efficiency, or more accurate demand forecasting.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively lower your COGS and improve your business’s financial health. Remember, the goal is not just to reduce costs but to do so in a way that maintains or enhances the quality of your offerings and the efficiency of your operations.


Understanding and effectively managing the cost of goods sold is essential for maximizing profitability and ensuring the financial health of your business. By applying the principles and methods discussed, you can gain greater control over your business’s finances and make more informed decisions.

Ready to streamline your restaurant's operations and gain better control over your COGS? Book a free demo or consultation with Chowbus POS today to explore tailored solutions designed to meet your business needs!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Explore essential queries surrounding Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), including its implications for taxation and distinctions from operating expenses, providing clarity on fundamental financial concepts crucial for business management.

Can You Have COGS Without Inventory?

You can have Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) without inventory. This scenario commonly occurs in service-based businesses or situations where direct costs are incurred in producing goods sold but not necessarily tracked as inventory. For example, a company may incur costs for raw materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overheads directly tied to the production of a product or the provision of a service, which are accounted for under COGS.

Do I Pay Taxes On Cost of Goods Sold?

No, you do not pay taxes on the cost of goods sold (COGS). COGS is deducted from your revenue to calculate the gross profit, which is the amount subject to taxation. Essentially, COGS reduces your taxable income, not adds to it.

What is the Difference Between COGS and Operating Expenses?

COGS, or Cost of Goods Sold, covers the direct costs incurred in creating a company's products or services, including the materials and labor specifically used in production. These expenses fluctuate with the company’s production levels or service provision rates. 

Operating expenses (OpEx), however, entail the broader costs involved in the day-to-day operation of a business, such as rent, utilities, administrative wages, marketing efforts, and insurance, which are essential for maintaining the business’s operations but do not directly correlate with the volume of production or service delivery.

Why Calculate Cost of Goods Sold?

Calculating the cost of goods sold (COGS) is essential for businesses because it helps determine the direct costs incurred to produce the goods that were sold during a period. This calculation is crucial for understanding the gross margin, which is the difference between sales revenue and COGS. By knowing the gross margin, businesses can assess their profitability, manage expenses more effectively, and make informed pricing and inventory decisions. Moreover, COGS is a key figure for tax purposes, as it directly affects the net income reported on financial statements, influencing the business's taxable income.

Is Cost of Materials Consumed Same as COGS?

No, the cost of materials consumed differs from the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The cost of materials consumed focuses solely on the expense incurred from using raw materials in production. Conversely, COGS covers all direct expenses related to producing sold goods, extending beyond just materials to include labor costs. Therefore, while material costs are vital for COGS calculation, they represent only a part of the comprehensive costs encapsulated by COGS, which accounts for all direct expenditures necessary for manufacturing the company's sold products.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial or legal advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we cannot guarantee its applicability or accuracy in regard to your individual circumstances. We recommend consulting with professional financial and legal advisors for advice specific to your business needs.

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