Over the past 20 years, various commodities have experienced drastic fluctuations in price due to changes in supply, demand, market sentiments, geopolitical events, and other factors. Let’s dive into the analysis of the top-performing commodities that have outperformed others in terms of return from 2003 to 2023.


Gold has been a reliable store of value and a hedge against inflation for centuries. From 2003 to 2023, gold prices have risen significantly, driven by global economic instability, geopolitical events, and periods of high inflation. In 2003, gold was priced around $363 per ounce. By 2023, the price has more than quintupled, highlighting the long-term investment appeal of this precious metal.

Crude Oil

Over the last 20 years, crude oil has shown some dramatic price movements, primarily influenced by global supply and demand dynamics, geopolitical risks, and macroeconomic factors. In 2003, a barrel of crude oil cost around $30. By mid-2008, the price skyrocketed to nearly $140 per barrel before plummeting during the global financial crisis. Oil prices rebounded and remained volatile over the years, reaching new highs by 2023, making it a rewarding commodity for risk-tolerant investors who navigated the market fluctuations successfully.


Palladium, a lustrous white material used in electronics, dentistry, medicine, and as a catalyst for chemical reactions, has seen enormous price appreciation in the last two decades. Its price per ounce increased almost tenfold from 2003 to 2023 due to supply constraints and rising demand in sectors like automobile manufacturing for catalytic converters, which reduce harmful emissions.


Copper, widely used in construction and electronics, experienced a substantial surge in price over the past 20 years. The copper market is deeply intertwined with the health of the global economy and infrastructure spending, particularly in developing economies like China and India. Over the period, the increased demand, coupled with periods of supply constraints, has driven up the price of copper significantly.


A relatively recent entrant to the commodities market, lithium, has also seen significant returns over the past 20 years. As a key component in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the demand for lithium has soared with the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage solutions. Lithium was not widely traded in 2003, but by 2023, its price has seen exponential growth, underpinned by the worldwide push towards greener technologies.

While the commodities mentioned above have been among the top performers over the past 20 years, it’s crucial to remember that commodities can be highly volatile and influenced by numerous external factors. Hence, it’s advisable for investors to have a diverse portfolio and avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. As with any investment, potential commodity investors should conduct thorough research or seek advice from financial advisors before making investment decisions.

Lastly, it is important to note that past performance is not always indicative of future results. Although these commodities have provided impressive returns over the past 20 years, it does not guarantee they will continue to do so in the future. It is important to stay updated with market trends and developments that may impact these commodities moving forward.