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This guide is designed to assist students doing research on commodities. It will help answer the following questions:
- Where is the commodity found? This includes both the country or region and the type of environment.
- What are the environmental considerations associated with the extraction or production of the commodity?
- How is the commodity extracted (produced) and by whom?
- How much of the commodity is left?
- Who uses the commodity (industries, individual consumers)?
- How is the commodity used?
- In what form is the commodity used?
- What is the price of the commodity (current, historical, and trends)?
The guide also provides information on Commodities Market Trading.
Use the Library Catalogue to find books, research reports, and government documents here at SFU Library.
Books about commodity markets and futures trading
Browse by subject in the Catalogue for topics such as Commodity exchanges or Futures market and the sub-topics (called sub-headings) which include different countries (e.g. Commodity exchanges - Canada) or topics (e.g., Commodity exchanges - History).
For information on a specific commodity exchange, use the exchange name as a subject search; e.g., Chicago Board of Trade.
Books about a commodity or group of commodities
Search by the name of your resource or commodity as a subject.
Scan the list of subject headings to see what is available. For example, try searching for the subject, Nickel. You will see that there are many books on this subject. They are categorized by sub-topic (called sub-headings), such as Nickel -Environmental aspects, and by a more specific topic such as Nickel Industry or Nickel mines and mining. Don't forget to try alternate terms for your commodity (e.g., Canola is also called Rapeseed; pigs are also called hogs).
If you don't find any books on your commodity, search for the broader group of commodities that it belongs to. For example, the commodity Canola is part of the Oilseeds group, which is part of the Grains group, which is part of the Agricultural group. The commodity pigs is part of the Livestock group, which is also part of the Agricultural group. Gold is part of the Precious Metals group, which is part of the Metals group.
Another way to find books on your commodity and various aspects of it is to use keyword searching. Keyword searches are especially useful for finding chapters in edited books. For example, try this search: forest* AND (ecolog* OR environment*) AND British Columbia. You will find chapters in several edited books and also some other subjects for further searching, including Sustainable Forestry.
Use these databases to find information about your commodity in academic, trade and popular magazines, newspapers and government publications:
- Academic Search Premier
- Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA)
- Business Source Complete
- Canadian Newsstream
- Canadian Research Index
- CBCA Complete
- Factiva : Use the Subject drop-down options to focus on specific commodity types
- Nexis Uni (International news and industry publications.)
Each of these reference books has some information on commodities, commodity markets, price indexes and other relevant topics.
- Dictionary of Human Geography (online or print)
- Encyclopedia of Environmental Analysis and Remediation (print)
- Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues (print)
- Encyclopedia of Global Resources
- A handbook of primary commodities in the global economy
- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (print)
- The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics
- The Routledge handbook of agricultural economics
- The World's Futures & Options Markets (print)
Associations & exchanges
In addition to the links below, it is often helpful to find an association or organization that is specific to your commodity (or commodity group). Use one or more of the sources listed in our Finding Business and Trade Associations guide to find an appropriate association for your commodity.
- Canadian Society of Technical Analysts
- Futures Industry Association
- National Futures Association (US)
Here are just a few of the many commodity exchanges. Some commodity exchanges deal in several commodities, some just deal in one commodity. No exchange deals in all commodities. Consult the CRB Commodities Yearbook (below) to find out which exchange(s) lists your commodity.
For a more complete list of world-wide exchanges, see the Rutger's University Libraries Stock and Commodities Exchange list.
- CME Group
- ICE (IntercontinentalExchange): Global Commodity Markets
- Tokyo Commodity Exchange
Commodity prices, commodity trade data & other statistics
BP Statistical Review of World Energy (BP Global)
Consumption, reserves, prices and more for oil, gas, coal, nuclear energy, and hydroelectric energy).
Commodity Market Review (print)
Data up to 2010 from the Food & Agriculture Association on production, trade, prices of food and agricultural products - production, trade, prices. Also available online (sample: 2009/10 edition). See also the more up-to-date online data at FAOSTAT.
Commodity Trade and Price Trends (print and online)
World Bank. Historical (to late 1980s only) time series for prices and trade data covering all types of commodities. See the World Bank's Open Data page for more recent information.
Commodity Trade Statistics Database
Part of UNdata. Data from 140+ countries starting in 1962.
CRB Commodity Yearbook
Production and prices for many types of commodities. Library has online editions from 1939-1942 & 1948 to 2 years ago, as well as print copies from 1985 to the present.
Data Planet Statistical Datasets
Cross searchable time series data from dozens of sources, including national governments and intergovernmental organizations such as the FAO, OECD, and UN. Start by browsing relevant subjects such as Energy Resources and Industries, Agriculture and Food, and Natural Resources and Environment. See these blog posts for more about Data Planet.
Historical Statistics of Canada
Includes references to sources that could be explored further for historical research.
International Trade Statistics Yearbook
UN. Covers all commodities with data by country and by commodity (uses SITC codes)
Medieval and Early Modern Data Bank
Historical currency data and prices of a select few commodities.
Statistics and market reports on many commodities by country, region or for the whole world. Also includes information on imports/exports, consumption/production, reserves. Data from 1977 onward is available.
S&P Capital IQ
Go to Markets > Commodities to access current and recent historical prices for traded commodities. Note: You will need to register for an S&P Capital IQ account before you can access the database.
A simple to use statistics portal that integrates statistics from thousands of sources. Be sure to follow the links to the original source of each statistic to gather relevant context and additional statistics. Sample searches: coal & wheat.
Thomson Reuter Eikon + Datastream
Both the Eikon and the Datastream portions of this database provide detailed commodity data ranging from pricing to futures.
UNCTAD Commodity Yearbook (print)
UN trade, production/consumption, principal producers for all commodities. The 2003 edition covering 1995-2000 is available online: Volume 1 & Volume 2. Editions from 1988 and later include a Commodity Prices Annex. Also see: UNCTADstat, UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics, Commodity Price Bulletin, and Commodities and Sustainable Development.
This is just a selection of resource-specific sources. In general, look for governmental and inter-governmental agencies that are responsible for specific types of resources.
- Coal Information: IEA
- Energy Statistics of OECD Countries
- FAO Yearbook of Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
- FAO Yearbook of Forest Products
- USGS Minerals Yearbook (more from the USGS)
- Mining/Materials: Natural Resources Canada
- Natural Gas Information: IEA via the OECD
- Oil Information: IEA via the OECD
In addition to the following Federal government links, try looking for information on the provincial government websites (i.e., for cod, try Newfoundland or another Atlantic province; for western red cedar, try the BC government website):
Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Statistics
Includes landings from 1972 to the present and other useful publications
Global Affairs Canada: Office of the Chief Economist
Research and analysis
Natural Resources Canada
Information on forests, energy, minerals and metals
Trade Data Online
Canada & US trade with other countries, by product and sector
Search relevant US government agencies to find data and other analytical products on your commodity group
Energy Information Administration
Global data on coal, natural gas, electricity, petroleum and other energy sources
Foreign Trade Statistics
US Census Bureau
Interactive Tariff and Trade Database
US International Trade Commission
Data and other information on ocean fisheries - includes Fishery market news, which has historical prices from the Fulton Fish Market from 1987 onward, as well as other fish markets in the US and abroad
- Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) Online: includes Commodities & Products pages and Data & Analysis
- USDA - Data and Statistics: data and other information on US crops, livestock and forests
USGS Minerals Information
Data on minerals, metals, stone, clay, glass, and concrete
- FAO (agricultural products and fisheries information - includes FAOSTAT, FIGIS, Globefish and other databases)
- Statistics Division (includes COMTRADE - commodity trading statistics database - and other publications)
- UNCTAD (international trade and development information - see especially their Commodities topic page, as well as their Handbook of Statistics, Trade Analysis resources, and Foreign Direct Investment Database)