This paper empirically examines the time series behavior of primary commodity prices relative to manufactures with reference to the nature of their underlying trends and the persistence of shocks driving the price processes. The direction and magnitude of the trends are assessed employing a set of econometric techniques that is robust to the nature of persistence in the commodity price shocks, thereby obviating the need for unit root pretesting. Specifically, the methods allow consistent estimation of the number and location of structural breaks in the trend function as well as facilitate the distinction between trend breaks and pure level shifts. Further, a new set of powerful unit root tests is applied to determine whether the underlying commodity price series can be characterized as difference or trend stationary processes. These tests treat breaks under the unit root null and the trend stationary alternative in a symmetric fashion thereby alleviating the procedures from spurious rejection problems and low power issues that plague most existing procedures. Relative to the extant literature, we find more evidence in favor of trend stationarity suggesting that real commodity price shocks are primarily of a transitory nature. We conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of our results.