ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The cost of food has been rising faster than the annual snowfall totals on the East Coast, and the United Nations has just warned that it’s at risk of getting even worse. That is, if you don’t own agriculture exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Over the last year or so, bad weather might have destroyed crops, but it’s given a major helping hand to agriculture ETFs. And that was before the U.N. sounded the alarm on China, the world’s largest wheat producer: a drought could threaten production, which would send China on the market for wheat, says The New York Times. [4 ETFs to Play the Coming Food Price Shock.]

Jonathon Gould for Reuters reports that food prices may stay elevated longer than many expect, in part because land that would ordinarily be used to grow food is being turned over to buiofuel production. [Agriculture ETFs: Major Shortfall Predicted.]

High prices can be played in two primary ways: equities and futures-based funds. Equities don’t give pure price exposure, but they do allow you to capitalize on better profit margins as a result of rising prices. Futures, naturally, will track the underlying commodity more closely, but don’t expect tracking of the spot price.

  • Market Vectors Agribusiness (NYSEArca: MOO): MOO, aside from having one of the best tickers out there, gives exposure to all the corners of the agricultural industry: production, operations, equipment, chemicals and biodiesel. It’s primarily a large-cap fund, with 54.2% of its 44 components falling into that category. Small- and mid-caps each get about 22% of the weighting.
  • PowerShares Global Agriculture (NYSEArca: PAGG): Similar to MOO, PAGG has allocations across a range of agriculture sub-sectors, including chemicals, operations, transportation and more. There are few small-caps in this fund, though: large-caps make up the vast majority of the ETF with 78.4% of the weight.
  • PowerShares DB Agriculture (NYSEArca: DBA): DBA used to own futures contracts on four commodities: sugar, soybeans, wheat and corn. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) position limits necessitated that this fund add in some other commodities, as well. Corn, soybeans, sugar, cattle and wheat account for 12.5% each of DBA.
  • Teucrium Corn (NYSEArca: CORN): Corn is one of the most ubiquitous commodities, used for feeding livestock, producing fuel and feeding humans. Teucrium‘s fund is the only pure-play single-commodity agriculture ETF at this point. In order to mitigate the effects of contango, contracts in CORN are spread throughout the crop year by holding the second and the third month, then the December after the third month.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.