Raw materials offerings are materials firms offer other firms so they can make a product or provide a service. Raw materials offerings are processed only to the point required to economically distribute them. Lumber is generally considered a raw material, as is iron, nickel, copper, and other ores. If iron is turned into sheets of steel, it is called a manufactured material because it has been processed into a finished good but is not a stand-alone product; it still has to be incorporated into something else to be usable. Both raw and manufactured materials are then used in the manufacture of other offerings.
Raw materials are often thought of as commodities, meaning that there is little difference among them. Consequently, the competition to sell them is based on price and availability. Natuzzi is an Italian company that makes leather furniture. The wood Natuzzi buys to make its sofas is a commodity. By contrast, the leather the company uses is graded, meaning each piece of leather is rated based on quality. To some extent, the leather is still a commodity, because once a firm decides to buy a certain grade of leather, every company’s leather within that grade is virtually the same.