Consumer Staples Sector: Overview and Funds

The consumer staples sector, sometimes called the consumer defensive sector, includes companies that produce items such as food, beverages and non-durable household and personal products. It also includes companies that sell food or pharmaceutical drugs. Any product considered a consumer staple is something that is essential or necessary for basic living. Within consumer staples, there are three main industry groups: food and staples retailing, food, beverage and tobacco and household and personal products.

Food and Staples Retailing

The food and staples retailing industry group is broken into four main sub-industries: drug retail, food distributors, food retail and hypermarkets and super centers. Drug retail includes pharmacies and any other stores that sell pharmaceutical drugs. Food distributors are companies that sell food products to other companies, but not consumers. Food retail includes stores that are not considered hypermarkets or super centers. This could be speciality food stores or small markets.

Food & Staples Retailing Drug Retail Drug stores and pharmacies.
Food Distributors Companies that distribute or wholesale food to other companies. Distributors do not sell directly to consumers and do not necessarily produce the food.
Food Retail Stores that sell primarily food, but are not considered super centers. This could be a speciality food story, such as a bakery or butcher shop.
Hypermarkets & Super Centers Super centers that sell a wide range of food and other staple items.

Examples of companies within food and staples retailing include Wal-Mart, CVS, Costco, Sysco, Kroger and Walgreens.

Food, Beverage and Tobacco

Food, beverage and tobacco includes companies that produce any sort of agricultural products, such as wheat; packaged foods, such as cheese; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, such as soft drinks and beer and tobacco products, such as cigarettes. 

Beverages Brewers Breweries, including breweries producing malt liquors.
Distillers & Vintners Distilleries, vineyards, wineries and vintners.
Soft Drinks Companies that produce non-alcoholic beverages, including mineral waters. This excludes companies that produce milk.
Food Products Agricultural Products Companies that produce agricultural products. This also includes crop growers and companies that produce/process foods, but do not package, market or sell these foods.
Packaged Foods & Meats Companies that produce packaged foods, including dairy, fruit juice, meat, poultry, fish and pet food.
Tobacco Tobacco Companies that produce cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Examples of companies within the food, beverage, and tobacco industry include Coca-Cola, General Mills, Tyson, ConAgra, Kellogg, Molson Coors (maker of Coors, Blue Moon, and Keystone beers) and Philip Morris (maker of Marlboro cigarettes).

Household and Personal Products

The household and personal products industry group includes companies that produce non-durable products such as soap, detergent, diapers, shampoo, and cosmetics. Non-durable refers to products that are repurchased regularly.

Household Products Household Products Companies that produce non-durable household products, including soap, detergents, paper towels, diapers and tissues.
Personal Products Personal Products Companies that produce personal and beauty products, including shampoo, cosmetics and perfumes.

Examples of companies that produce household and personal products include Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive and Estée Lauder.

Consumer Staples Sector ETFs and Mutual Funds

Listed below are over 35 ETFs, mutual funds and index funds that follow the consumer staples sector or specific industries within the sector. Most of the funds cover the United States, but some track globally or within specific markets or countries, such as Brazil. For the funds listed below, the expense fees range from 0.10% to 2.35%.

NameSymbolExpense Ratio
Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF VDC 0.10%
Vanguard Consumer Staples Index Admiral Shares VCSAX 0.10%
Fidelity MSCI Consumer Staples Index ETF FSTA 0.12%
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF XLP 0.14%
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Consumer Staples ETF PSCC 0.29%
Guggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight Consumer Staples ETF RHS 0.40%
SPDR S&P International Consumer Staples Sector ETF IPS 0.40%
iShares U.S. Consumer Goods ETF IYK 0.43%
iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF KXI 0.47%
PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF PBJ 0.58%
PowerShares DWA Consumer Staples Momentum ETF PSL 0.60%
First Trust Consumer Staples AlphaDEX ETF FXG 0.62%
WisdomTree Emerging Markets Consumer Growth ETF EMCG 0.63%
Global X Brazil Consumer ETF BRAQ 0.77%
Fidelity® Select Consumer Staples Portfolio FDFAX 0.77%
Fidelity Advisor® Consumer Staples Fund Class I FDIGX 0.80%
EGShares Emerging Markets Consumer ETF ECON 0.83%
ProShares Ultra Consumer Goods UGE 0.95%
ProShares UltraShort Consumer Goods SZK 0.95%
Putnam Global Consumer Fund Class Y PGCYX 1.01%
Fidelity Advisor® Consumer Staples Fund Class A FDAGX 1.05%
Putnam Global Consumer Fund Class A PGCOX 1.26%
Fidelity Advisor® Consumer Staples Fund Class T FDTGX 1.32%
Rydex Consumer Products Investor Class RYCIX 1.34%
ICON Consumer Staples Fund Class S ICLEX 1.51%
Putnam Global Consumer Fund Class R PGCIX 1.51%
Rydex Consumer Products Fund Class A RYPDX 1.60%
ICON Consumer Staples Fund Class A ICRAX 1.76%
Putnam Global Consumer Fund Class M PGCMX 1.76%
Fidelity Advisor® Consumer Staples Fund Class C FDCGX 1.80%
Fidelity Advisor® Consumer Staples Fund Class B FDBGX 1.82%
Rydex Consumer Products Fund Class H RYCAX 1.85%
Putnam Global Consumer Fund Class B PGCKX 2.01%
Putnam Global Consumer Fund Class C PGCNX 2.01%
Rydex Consumer Products Fund Class C RYCPX 2.35%

When purchasing shares of an ETF, index fund, or mutual fund, make sure to do research on the fund. You should research the investment strategy, components, fees and sales charges and historical returns of the fund. You should also consider how the fund will fit into your investment portfolio.

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