Doug Fabian

The investment category of commodities covers a wide range of products, ranging from earth-based fuels (oil and gas) to precious metals (silver, gold) to agricultural produce (corn, soybeans). Just as there are many varieties of products classed as commodities, many exchange-traded fund (ETF) providers mine this space to offer potentially profitable funds. Among these are several relatively small providers, which do not have as many funds available to investors as the heavy hitters do.

Smaller ETF providers in the commodities space include the United States Commodity Funds, Teucrium and IndexIQ. These three providers each offer several commodities funds across the spectrum of what the sector offers.

Consistent with its straightforward name, the United States Commodity Funds offers U.S.-based commodity funds. The provider gives investors a small selection of metal and agricultural funds. But this provider's main focus is in oil and natural gas. One of its more well-known funds is United States Natural Gas (UNG), which invests in futures contracts on natural gas near their expiration month. UNG has risen a stellar 21.51% so far during 2014's tepid market.

Teucrium, named after a variety of plant, focuses on agricultural funds. However, it also offers fuel-based funds. This provider's farm-based offerings include corn, soybeans, sugar cane and wheat funds. Its corn ETF, Teucrium Corn (CORN), features a straightforward ticker and has advanced 6.44% year to date. CORN bases its results on a weighted average of various corn futures contracts.

Though it provides access to ETFs focusing on other sectors, including hedge fund-style ETFs, real estate funds and international ETFs, IndexIQ has a presence in the commodities sector, as well. Its funds in this space have a global focus and include investments in oil and agribusiness. IndexIQ also provides the IQ Global Resources ETF (GRES), which follows a smorgasbord approach in having a stake in most major commodities, including precious metals, industrial metals, livestock, energy and grains, as well as less common investments in timber, water and coal. It has managed a slight gain of 3.52% so far in 2014.

If you are interested in investing in the commodities space, realize that there are many varieties of ETFs to choose from in the sector. In addition, there are many different providers offering these funds. The providers featured today as examples may shine a little bit of light on this expansive sector to help you get started.

Doug Fabian

Doug Fabian is the editor of the monthly investment newsletter Successful Investing and is the host of the syndicated radio show, "Doug Fabian's Wealth Strategies."