Sustainability Digital – March 2021

Secular Supply and Demand

Over the past two decades, China’s secular rise dominated commodity markets, as its industrialization required a massive amount of raw materials to build up the country. As we consider the future, we see many reasons to be bullish on commodities tactically, but one of the most important secular factors will likely support industrial commodity demand for years to come: the shift in global economies away from fossil fuels and toward greener energy. To enable this transition, the rising share of electric power (EVs) in the world car fleet and the rising share of renewable energy in the generation of electric power, along with their requisite infrastructure, all require significant raw materials. These secular forces will support the demand for metals at the same time that future supply growth is restrained due to producers’ low investment in new capacity in recent years. Too much demand relative to supply will require higher prices until demand growth is constrained and/or new sources of supply are brought online. Given the substantial lag between a producer investing and bringing new capacity online, such commodity imbalances typically unfold over many years until they get resolved.

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