Consumer staples companies produce products that are designed to be used immediately or in a short period of time. The general rule is that they will be used within three years. They include food products, beverages, drug retailing, tobacco, and personal products.
The consumer staples sector is considered defensive. Most of the stocks of companies in this sector, will not be hurt a lot by a bad economy. This is because a lot of the products produced by these companies are small ticket items, that consumers think of as essential. Such as food, cleaning supplies and toiletries.