Commodities 101: A Guide to Understanding This Asset Class

Commodities 101: A Guide to Understanding This Asset Class

Commodities are raw materials or primary agricultural products that can be bought and sold, such as oil, gold, wheat, and cattle. These goods are often used as inputs in the production of other goods and services and are traded on exchanges around the world.

Commodities can be broadly classified into three categories:

Energy: This includes crude oil, natural gas, and gasoline, among other products.

Metals: This includes precious metals like gold and silver, as well as industrial metals like copper and aluminum.

Agriculture: This includes crops like wheat, corn, soybeans, and livestock like cattle and hogs.

How Do Commodities Work?

Commodity prices are determined by supply and demand factors, just like any other asset. When demand for a commodity increases, prices generally rise, and when demand decreases, prices generally fall.

Supply and demand factors can be influenced by a range of factors, including weather conditions, geopolitical events, and technological advances. For example, a drought in a major wheat-producing region could lead to a decrease in supply and an increase in prices, while a new drilling technology could increase the supply of oil and lower prices.

Commodities can be traded in two main ways: through futures contracts and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Futures contracts are agreements to buy or sell a commodity at a predetermined price and date in the future, while ETFs are funds that hold a basket of commodities and trade like a stock.

Why Invest in Commodities?

There are several reasons why investors may choose to include commodities in their investment portfolios. First, commodities can provide diversification benefits, as they often have a low correlation with traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds.

In addition, commodities can provide a hedge against inflation. Because commodity prices are often tied to supply and demand factors, they can rise in value during periods of high inflation when traditional investments may be losing value.

Finally, commodities can offer potential for high returns. While there is always risk involved in any investment, commodities can offer the potential for significant returns when prices are on the rise.

Strategies for Investing in Commodities

When investing in commodities, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Diversify your portfolio: Invest in a range of commodities to reduce risk and increase potential returns.

Consider ETFs: ETFs offer a convenient way to invest in a diversified portfolio of commodities.

Understand supply and demand: Be aware of the supply and demand factors that impact the commodities you’re investing in and the potential impact on their value.

Monitor geopolitical events: Political and economic events around the world can impact commodity prices, so it’s important to stay informed and adjust your strategy as needed.

Stay disciplined: Stick to your investment plan and avoid making emotional decisions based on short-term market fluctuations.


Commodities can be a valuable part of a diversified investment portfolio, offering diversification benefits, a hedge against inflation, and potential for high returns. By understanding how commodities work, the different types of commodities available, and various strategies for success, investors can build a commodity portfolio that meets their financial goals and helps to navigate the ups and downs of the market.

Andrew Johnson is a seasoned journalist with a keen interest in the commodity market. He is a regular contributor to, where he covers the latest news, trends, and analysis related to the commodity industry. With years of experience under his belt, Andrew has established himself as a reliable source of information on the global commodity market.