The French word “commodité,” which means “amenity or convenience,” is where the word “commodity” originates. Geographic limits do not restrict the trading of commodities. Therefore, the market for commodities might start in a small town and extend outside national boundaries. Supply and demand govern how much items cost on the market. As a result, commodities play a crucial role in trading. 

What is a commodity? 

An object or component of an economic good or service is referred to as a commodity. It can be freely exchanged on the market, referred to as the spot market or the commodities market. 

A key characteristic of a commodity is that the thing we refer to as a commodity is typical of its kind and cannot be distinguished. Gold, iron, energy, animals, meat, and agricultural products are examples of commodities. It frequently involves components used as raw materials or inputs to produce another item or product marketed to consumers. 

Understanding commodities 

The primary materials used to create items are known as commodities. They could also be everyday necessities like certain agricultural goods. A commodity’s crucial characteristic is very little, if any. Regardless of the producer, an oil barrel is essentially the same product. A bushel of wheat or a tonne of ore works the same way. 

As financial assets, commodities can be purchased and traded on specialised exchanges. So, you can purchase contracts on such commodities on well-developed derivatives marketplaces. Due to its low correlation to other financial assets and potential role as an inflation hedge, several experts advise investors to hold at least a small amount of their money in commodities. 

A commodity code, a 10-digit number that aids in identifying import and export restrictions outside the EU, is attached to every product. This covers all possible duty and VAT assessments, and any import permits you would need to disclose when presenting a good to customs. 

Types of commodities 


Over 100 commodities are traded on about 50 major global commodity markets. There are four main categories of commodities that traders can deal in: 

  • Metal 

Along with precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum, a wide range of metals used in manufacturing and construction, such as iron, copper, aluminium, and nickel, are accessible for trading in the market. 

  • Energy products 

Energy products used in homes and businesses are exchanged in large quantities. These are oils and natural gas. Uranium, ethanol, coal, and electricity are additional energy commodities that are traded. 

  • Agricultural products 

A wide range of agricultural and livestock products are traded on the commodities market. Take, for instance, sugar, cocoa, cotton, spices, cereals, oilseeds, pulses, eggs, feeder cattle, and various other products. 

  • Environmental goods 

This category contains white certifications, carbon emissions, and renewable energy. 

Characteristics of commodities 

The various characteristics of trading in commodities are: 

  • Trading in commodities offers security from inflation and unexpected price increases. 
  • Commodity trading can assist one in protecting prices from a black swan event that could result in a price increase or significant discount. 
  • High leverage is like a two-edged sword; untrained traders risk significant losses. 
  • Because commodities are so volatile, one bad trade could cause you to lose all of your money. 
  • Commodity funds don’t offer enough diversification because they are concentrated in just one or two industries. The share price of a commodity ETF can be significantly impacted by a change in a commodity’s price. 
  • Commodity futures can offer tremendous leverage, which means that even a minor price change can result in significant profits. 
  • Diversification and avoiding over-concentration due to prolonged exposure to shares can be achieved using commodities. 

Examples of commodities 

Commodities are goods or services purchased and sold only based on price in commerce. The traded commodities are among them. They may also consist of goods that lack distinctive branding, advantages, or other characteristics that set them apart from competing goods. 

One branded product that enjoys loyalty and a premium price is Coca-Cola, which is considered different from other cola drinks. As a cheap store brand isn’t all that distinctive from other store brands, it is more of a commodity. It is primarily purchased due to its inexpensive cost rather than its taste. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Commoditisation is turning goods or services into uniform, commoditized items. The distinctive or distinguishing characteristics of the commodity are sometimes removed through this process in favour of interchangeable, identical, cheaper alternatives. 

All commodity trading companies are altering commodities in logistics, storage, and shape (processing). Their primary duty is to carry out physical “arbitrages” that increase value through these changes. 

The largest commodity trading firms in the world as of 2022 were 

  • Vitol 
  • Glencore 
  • Cargill 
  • Koch Enterprises 
  • Midland Archer Daniels 
  • Gunvor Worldwide 

Commodity trading refers to a market where different commodities and their derivative products are bought and sold. These products are largely divided into four categories: agriculture, livestock and meat, metal, and energy. 

The selling and purchasing of raw materials, including energy, spices, natural gas, energy products, and precious metals, occurs in commodity markets. The first method of trading commodities is through futures contracts. 

Both the futures market and the spot market are available for trading commodities. The buyer instantly pays the item’s current spot price on the spot market. In futures markets, people buy contracts that guarantee items at a specified price shortly. On futures markets, you may trade processed goods as well. 

A prolonged boom and bust in the commodity markets, with prices dropping noticeably above or below their long-term trends, is referred to as a commodity supercycle. These oscillations frequently linger for over a decade and may even outlive the business cycle. 

Many analysts believe that a new supercycle may begin as countries recover from the epidemic and demand for green energy infrastructure increases. 

Supercycles often last for 15-20 years; therefore, it might initially be challenging to distinguish between the beginning of a new supercycle and more frequent short-term price swings. 

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