Smoked Catfish Business In Nigeria – A Surprising Wealth Source!

Smoked Catfish Business In Nigeria – An Untapped Source Of Revenue.

Nigeria is known as a leading producer of African Catfish around the world. And the second-highest producer of aquaculture in all of Africa.  Yet the biggest global exporter of African catfish are destinations like Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, and Cote d’Ivoire. These countries often buy the same catfish from Nigeria at a lower price and further export it to Europe, making greater revenue.

So what are these countries doing that Nigeria isn’t?

The simple answer is the Smoked catfish business.

In the previous articles, we discussed how to set up a catfish farm. But it wouldn’t be a lie if I said that farming catfish isn’t meant for all.

While it is highly profitable and can return your investment within a few months, It requires a much larger vision, passion, and a huge amount of determination and dedication to run a sustainable smoked catfish business.

Yes indeed, the Smoked catfish business is a lot different, and if you are doing it the right way, it might seem a lot easier too.

But what is the right way?

In this post, we have attempted to describe the essential elements that you would need to follow through in order to set up a successful smoked catfish business in Nigeria.

So let us find out!

Phase 1 – Planning

– Determining Your Investment:

To start any successful business in this world, you need to first set out an initial capital that we call – Investment.
This initial amount of money will determine how big or small your business setup will be. And in the case of the smoked catfish business, it will also determine how much profit you will make because the bigger the investment, the bigger the profit.
However, that does not mean that you can not start small. It just means that this business will give you all the right reasons to scale it bigger in the long run.

– Comprehending The Requirements Of A Catfish Smoking Plant:

To set up your own catfish smoking plant, you will need the following:
– Adequate space to cure, smoke, dry, package, and store the catfish.
– Fresh catfish and other ingredients are needed to kill and cure the fish.
– Smoke kilns to smoke the fish.
– Packaging equipment, like packaging material, sealers, etc.

– Weighing The Risks Involved In The Smoked Catfish Business:

1. Health risks: Smoked fish can carry harmful bacteria and parasites if not handled and stored properly.

2. Regulations: The production and sale of smoked fish are subject to various health and food safety regulations that must be adhered to.

3. Quality control: Maintaining consistent quality and flavour can be challenging, especially if there are fluctuations in the quality of the raw materials.

4. Marketing: Effective marketing is necessary to build brand recognition and increase sales.

– Getting To Know The Smoked Catfish Market And Its Trends:

1. Increased demand: The demand for smoked fish has increased, driven by its popularity as a healthy and flavorful food option.

2. Artisanal production: There is a growing trend towards artisanal and handcrafted production methods as consumers seek more authentic and high-quality products.

3. Sustainability: Consumers are increasingly interested in products that are sustainably produced, so sustainable processing methods are becoming more important.

4. Health-conscious: The health-conscious trend has increased the popularity of smoked catfish as a low-fat, high-protein food option.

5. Convenience: The demand for convenient and ready-to-eat products is growing, and smoked catfish can be packaged in various forms to meet this demand.

6. Online sales: The growth of online sales channels and budding awareness about selling seafood online has helped expand the market.

7. Different flavours: The creation of new flavours and taste profiles is a growing trend in the smoked fish market as companies seek to differentiate their products from competitors.

Phase 2 – Setting up:

In our previous article about the Smoked Catfish business, we discussed in depth how to preserve, process, and pack catfish.

But today we will only be discussing the most neglected areas of the setting up of a smoked catfish business in Nigeria and why they are important.

– Finding The Right Catch
One huge myth about smoked catfish and its processing is that it includes the use of par rotten or near to rotting produce.

While the truth is that the one and only key to delicious, healthy, and long-lasting Smoked catfish is nothing but FRESH catfish.

Smoking fish is not a way to make a quick buck on rotten or average produce. It’s a lucrative business that runs entirely on demand from its customers that are willing to pay good money for a healthy and perfectly charred piece of smoked catfish.

So the first and foremost thing one needs to do is get in touch with a catfish farm. In case you are running one yourself, you have nothing to worry about.

If that isn’t the case, then make sure to survey a few catfish farms around you.

Other than examining the catch/produce, below are a few things you should definitely keep in mind before sealing the deal:

– Look at their feed and the condition of the farm.
– Make sure they have a third-party veteran on board.
– Overview of their general work ethics.

These will help you judge the overall health of the product and whether or not these farms are capable of malpractice in the future.

Another thing to take into consideration is the size of the produce. This depends on what your target audience is. Some people like bigger pieces, while some prefer smaller, individually sized pieces. This will require a bit of research on your end.

Pro Tip- Make sure to finalize more than one farm or seller. So in case one fails to provide the right products, your business is not affected.

– Finding The Right Equipment
The most important factor in running the smoked catfish business is finding the right equipment. Be it for drying the fish, smoking the fish, or simply brining the fish.

While brining only requires a huge tumbler, smoking and drying need some technical types of equipment that not only dry and smoke the catfish but also ensure they are doing it without disrupting the catfish’s quality.

For smoking, you can find several kilns or ovens available in the market. Depending on your budget, you can even make one according to your business needs. See also our detailed article onCatfish Smoking Machines

Some types of Smoking equipment include:
– brick kilns
– wood fire kilns
– Coal kilns
– Gas kilns
– Open fire

All of these options have their own pros and cons. Deciding which one to use depends on your investment, space, and the acquired taste of the clients.

– Importance Of Storage
Then comes probably the most neglected step in Smoked Catfish Business. Most people assume that since the fish is smoked and dried, it can not be contaminated.

It may not contaminate as easily, but if not handled well, it can become a carrier for contamination. It’s the food we are talking about, and it’s obvious that all sorts of animals and insects get attracted to it.

It’s highly necessary to have a well-ventilated room for the storage of smoked catfish. The room should be equipped with dry and less humid conditions.

– Measures To Prevent Disease And Decay
There are 4 things that can help keep the smoked catfish from spreading any disease or decaying:

1. Safe transportation of fresh produce:
As emphasized earlier, fresh produce is key for good quality smoked catfish. But in order to retain its freshness, transportation of the catch in a safe and quality-controlled environment is key.

Because as soon as the catfish is out of the water, the decaying process kicks in. The bacteria living on its skin and the enzymes in its stomach start to decompose the flesh and skin of the fish itself.

Beware: No matter how much anyone insists, keep it a rule never to deal in near-to-rotting catfish. Because no matter how well you treat the fish, once the decaying process kicks in, the rottenness will show in the final product.

2. Thorough Splitting And Gutting (Eviscerate) :
Next up, make sure the catfish is thoroughly cleaned from the inside and out after the gills and guts have been removed (eviscerated). Unlike other fish, catfish do not require scaling, which is a tedious process in itself, as it has no scales. The insides must be safely removed, and the catfish must be stored separately to avoid contamination.

3. Curing:
In this process, split and gutted catfish are immersed in a saltwater brine with a high salt concentration, up to at least 70%.

This helps in preserving its freshness and shape. It does so by diminishing the catfish’s water content, making it easier to smoke. The catfish will now be crispier and have less chance of falling apart during the process of smoking.

4. Drying:
This a simple but highly significant step in catfish smoking. Once out of the brine, the Catfish must be dried thoroughly or until a hard glossy seal can be seen over it. This further prevents the fish from turning stale or breaking apart.

– Packaging And Labeling:
As a rule of thumb, invest less in packaging because it gets wasted anyway, and this does put off a lot of customers because, eventually, they are the ones paying for the product.

The main idea behind the packaging is to keep the food from being compromised. But here are a few details that can make a difference:

– Use clear branding and concise labelling.
– Eco-friendly packaging is a plus.
– Vacuum sealing is the best; however, resealable packaging is also making its way to the market.
– Use actual product shots on the package for authenticity.

Phase 3 – Marketing

Although it is the last and final phase of the smoked catfish business, it’s one of the most important. And work on it should start before you start to set up your processing plant.
Like in any business module, marketing plays a major role here too. Whether you choose to use word of mouth, digital media, or print media, marketing starts days before your catch is ready to surf the markets.

Here are a few things you need to look into before you set out to market your product:

– Create A Brand
Say what you may, but people today have become increasingly brand conscious. And I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t.

The first thing a customer looks into when buying any product is quality, and the second is consistency.
A brand promises exactly that.

So when I suggest you create a brand, it’s truly important to understand the idea behind it. Superficial brandings, like a catchy name and logo and may not be enough to create a steady chain of clientele.
Make sure your brand stays true to its promise of quality, consistently throughout its tenure.

Use actual product shots on the package for authenticity

– Procure a good marketing budget.
When it comes to running a business, marketing budgets are placed scantily. Recent surveys suggest that an average business invests about 9% of its profit in Marketing. Whereas for a newly established business, the percentage should be anywhere between 10 to 15%.

– Allocate the marketing budget.
Most businesses have amazing marketing budgets but fail to provide steady results.
The reason lies in where the budget is being utilized. In this day and age, there are multiple marketing platforms such as social media, print media, as well as email and sms services.

One marketing strategy that works well for food and similar consumable products is giveaways. The company gives off products to a few of its customers for free in return for a review.
This results in achieving genuine feedback, which is always a plus for organically increasing your reach.

Here are some other marketing tactics that can help you achieve the best results:
● Create a unique social media presence that resonates with your brand and shows authenticity. (7)
● Create a well-versed website that is easy to navigate.
● Mark your presence on Google Maps; it has far more reach than most apps. (6)
● Collab with known delivery services for online orders and restaurants for offline sales.
● Don’t take your reviews for granted. Use them as a tool to market and improve yourself in the business.


So comes the final question, IS SMOKING CATFISH PROFITABLE?

If simply put, then – Yes, Smoked Catfish Business in Nigeria is a highly lucrative business.

However, the profitability of a smoked catfish business in Nigeria depends on several factors, such as the cost of production, sales volume, competition, and pricing strategy.

On average, it has all the potential to be profitable, as there is a great demand for smoked fish in Nigeria. So while even an averagely-scaled smoked catfish business is profitable, it is important to conduct thorough market research and have a well-established business plan in place to ensure success.

We love to hear from you.

Are you interested in setting up a smoked catfish business in Nigeria? Or have you already started on that journey?

Let us know by sharing your experience with us using the comment box below.

Festus Otasowie
Festus Otasowie
Articles: 55


  1. Thank you for the beautiful article; highly educative and full of useful information. I am a fish farmer, and I am about to venture into a commercial smoking catfish business. I would love to know how to get smoking kilns that meet the international standard, as the midterm goal is to go into the export of these products.

    • This is a very noble goal Sunday.
      Typically by searching for these on the internet you are able to find manufacturers who are selling them. But first I would suggest you may have to use a different search word/phrase. The commercial smoking machine for smoked fish is traditionally called smokehouse. So you may get better results from your search on Google using that instead. But a good place to start would be our post and You will also find our guide on how to find overseas buyers will help you to. You get that when you use the pop up subscribe opt-in form on our site. It is free,
      So you can see that by exploring this site you can already learn a lot about what you need. All the best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New release

Now You Can Find Out Why Your Catfish Sales Suck!

Are you still selling so hard with very little reward? Grab the FREE eBook How to Find Smoked Catfish Buyers Overseas today and start earning more for your efforts. You deserve it!