As if we needed a reminder that our food, fuel and clothing are all subject to global political, meteorological and market developments. The turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has now intensified investors' focus on commodity markets, which once belonged to farmers and a tight club of traders. Now, investors more broadly consider real assets an ongoing component of their investment portfolio. Witness the assets under management for commodity-related mutual funds, which grew from $20.8 billion at the end of February 2006, to $155.7 billion five years later, according to research firm Strategic Insight. We've received the message about commodity investing, but did we get the right message? To address that question, let's consider commodities from three perspectives: supply, demand and risk.

Supply

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