What costs are relevant when determining how many pizzas a month Zume Pizza must sell to break even?

photo of robot putting pizza sauce on a pizza

Source: Fast Company

Zume Pizza uses a combination of robots, artificial intelligence (AI), and GPS in its food trucks to deliver pizzas to customers’ houses just as the pizza is finished baking. Pizzas are actually prepared and baked in the Zume pizza truck by an employee assisted by robots.  Zume Pizza started operations in April 2016 and is currently selling about 250 pizzas per day.

The pizza delivery process starts with a customer using Zume Pizza’s app to order pizza. The pizza combinations offered by Zume have been derived by analyzing customer data to offer several popular options. These preset combination recipes are programmed into Zume’s computers, so that its robots can build and bake the pizzas efficiently.

All pizza preparation and baking happens in the Zume pizza truck. Once the customer orders a pizza, a worker in the Zume food truck will toss the dough, cut the vegetables, and put on toppings. A robot will put on the pizza sauce.  Each Zume pizza truck has 56 pizza ovens, which are each individually connected to the order system and the truck’s GPS. A robot will put the pizza into the designated oven exactly four minutes before the truck reaches the customer’s house. A worker will pull out the pizza when it is finished and place it into the cutter, where a robot will cut the pizza. The pizza is boxed and the pizza is delivered to the customer’s door, all within a few minutes of finishing baking. Eventually, Zume’s owners hope to use a robot to remove pizzas from the oven as well.

Assume that average selling price per pizza is about $18. To follow are estimates of costs that might be incurred by Zume Pizza in its pizza business.

Description of cost  Cost estimate
Ingredient cost per pizza  $                   6.00
Truck fuel cost per delivery  $                   3.00
Cost of pizza delivery truck (estimated useful life 5 years, no salvage value)  $               80,000
Cost of initial software development (estimated useful life 3 years)  $               30,000
Annual maintenance/update costs of software  $               25,000
Supplies cost per pizza (box, napkins, etc.)  $                   1.00
Cost to park pizza delivery truck per year (garage facility)  $               24,000
Insurance and other regulatory costs per year  $               36,000
Cost of cofounders’ salaries per year  $            150,000
Cost to rent restaurant kitchen facility for testing and food prep (per year)  $               45,000
Direct labor cost per pizza (driving truck and preparing pizza in truck)  $                   5.00

 Questions

  1. From the list above, what costs would you classify as variable with respect to the cost of a Zume pizza? Are there any other variable costs you could envision that Zume might incur per pizza? Explain.
  2. From the list above, what costs would you classify as fixed with respect to the cost of a Zume pizza? Are there any other fixed costs you could envision that Zume might incur in its pizza business? Explain.
  3. What costs from the list and any costs you thought of for Questions #1 and #2 above would you use to calculate the break even number of pizzas that Zume Pizza must sell per day? Why did you included these costs? Calculate the break even number of pizzas.
  4. Given your answer for the current break even number of pizzas, calculate Zume’s margin of safety in number of pizzas (if any margin of safety exists.) What does this margin of safety mean?

Instructor Resources

These resources are provided to give the instructor flexibility for use of Accounting in the Headlines articles in the classroom. The blog posting itself can be assigned via a link to this site OR by distributing the student handout below. Alternatively, the PowerPoint file below contains a bullet point overview of the article and the discussion questions.

  • Student handout (pdf) (word) (contains entire blog posting + discussion questions)
  • PowerPoint file (brief article overview + discussion questions)

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

About Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CGMA

Dr. Wendy Tietz is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA. She is also a textbook author with Pearson Prentice-Hall.

4 Responses to “What costs are relevant when determining how many pizzas a month Zume Pizza must sell to break even?”

  1. Hi Wendy. Am I looking at this wrong or are the variable costs (ingredients, fuel, supplies, direct labor 6+3+1+5) equal to the sales price of $15? Thanks.

    • Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CGMA Reply March 13, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Could be. Adjust the selling price upwards to make it work – I will adjust the selling price later (I am not where I can fix anything.) Thanks for the comment:-)

  2. Thanks for the quick reply. I thought that might be the case, so I’m changing the sale price to $18. That will make it reasonable for my class today! I appreciate your response.

  3. Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CGMA Reply March 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I already changed it to $18 – that was a pure typo on my part:-) Thanks for the heads up. Everything has been corrected.

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