Classification of Commodities

The basics of commodities, including their definition, trading strategies, and particulars of trading commodity CFDs, were discussed in our prior blog post. With that foundation in place, let’s take a more detailed look in this blog. Today, we will delve into the classification of commodities, offering a detailed perspective on the various items that impact our everyday existence.

Quick Refresher on Commodities

If you need a brief recap or are just joining us, commodities are the bedrock of trade and economics.These basic items are produced by a large number of companies worldwide and serve as the basis for many of the products and services that we use on a daily basis. Their market value? Well, it’s primarily determined by the age-old dance of supply and demand. If you would like to delve deeper into this topic, we suggest reading our earlier blog post, which provides a comprehensive analysis of this subject.

Unpacking the Classification of Commodities

As we venture deeper into the classification of commodities, we discover two primary categories:

1. Soft Commodities: Nature's Bounty

When we talk about the classification of commodities, soft commodities often come to the forefront. These commodities, nurtured by the rhythm of seasons and the richness of the earth, have a unique life cycle. They are planted, grown, harvested, and then, the cycle repeats. Because of this renewable nature, they can be susceptible to seasonal price fluctuations. For instance, a poor monsoon can affect crop yields and, consequently, prices in the market.

Soft commodities are further divided into two categories:

Agricultural Commodities

This category can paint a diverse landscape in your mind. It includes crops such as wheat, maize, and rice. From your morning toast to the dinner pasta, agricultural commodities are staples in our diets. Their growth is significantly influenced by climate, water availability, and even factors like pest infestations. Hence, a good harvest season can bring about an abundance of these goods, while an unfavourable year can lead to scarcity.


Beyond the crop fields, we find ourselves amidst grazing cattle, clucking poultry, and other farm animals. Livestock commodities are primarily animals reared for their produce. Be it the milk from cows, meat from chickens, or wool from sheep, livestock plays a vital role in both our diet and clothing.

2. Hard Commodities: Earth's Treasures

Diving into the classification of commodities, we can’t ignore hard commodities. Unlike soft commodities, these treasures are mined or extracted. They’re typically found deep within the earth or are the result of sophisticated extraction processes. What sets them apart from their soft counterparts is their non-renewable nature. Once extracted, they don’t regenerate in the same way crops do.

Just like soft commodities, hard commodities break down further into two types:


From the shimmering allure of gold and silver to the resilient strength of iron and aluminium, metals are the building blocks of our civilization. They shape our city skylines, form the circuits in our gadgets, and even adorn us as jewellery. Mining, a process of extracting minerals from the earth, brings these metals to our world. Their availability is often limited to certain geographical areas, making them precious and sometimes even politically significant.


Powering our world is a range of energy commodities. This encompasses crude oil, which undergoes the refining process to produce gasoline for automobiles; natural gas, which provides illumination for households; and coal, which, despite environmental considerations, continues to be a substantial source of energy for power generation on a global scale. The exploration and extraction of these resources involve a combination of geological expertise, advanced technology, and significant capital investment.

In the Grand Scheme of Things

From savoring a morning meal to powering up our homes, commodities play a silent yet pivotal role in our daily lives. With a clearer grasp of the classification of commodities, we can better appreciate the vast interplay of trade and global interdependence. So, the next time you admire a piece of jewelry, savor a chocolate bar, or relish a hearty meal, remember the intricate journey of commodities from their source to your hands.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do soft and hard commodities differ in market behavior?

Soft commodities, given their renewable nature, often face price fluctuations due to factors like seasonal changes, weather patterns, and agricultural policies. In contrast, hard commodities may experience price shifts based on geopolitical events, extraction costs, and worldwide demand.

2. Are there other ways commodities are grouped besides the soft and hard distinction?

Certainly, commodities can be categorized based on their usage, such as consumer goods and production goods. Some experts also segment them based on their market behavior—cyclical, non-cyclical, or defensive.

3. How do soft and hard commodities impact investment approaches?

Investors might approach soft commodities as short-term investments, considering their seasonality and renewable nature. On the flip side, hard commodities, with their longer extraction and production timelines, could be seen as opportunities for long-term investments.

4. Do trade policies differ for agricultural products versus mined resources?

Absolutely. Policies for agricultural products often emphasize sustainable farming, food security, and trade balance. For mined resources, the focus shifts to extraction rights, environmental regulations, and geopolitics.