Starting a Catfish Processing and Packaging Business? Know These


Do you wish to begin a catfish processing and packaging business anytime soon?

If yes, do you also know what it takes to launch such business?

For specifics, this unpopular guide is for three sets of individuals;

  1. Catfish farmers who desire to broaden their business field by including the catfish processing and packaging business extension.
  2. Catfish merchants that need to market smoked or dried fish
  3. Finally, for those looking for a means to preserve their catfishes from spoilage after harvest, yes, this resource will explain the best possible way.

Regardless of the category you fall under, you must know that catfish processing is an add-on to your farming business.

Now lets get down to business of the day, may I first ask you if you know how best to earn 6 figures by just smoking of catfishes? Well, if you do not know, then keep reading.


What do catfish processing and packaging business entail?

Inasmuch as the sounds like a big grammar seems, it is still something you already know.

What am I trying to say here? The catfish processing business is commonly referred to as a catfish smoking business – an agribusiness that involves the use or wholesale purchase of catfish from farmers, turning it from its state to smoke-dried nature, and then making it available for sale.

However, you should never forget that you must only process fish that are mature and healthy for human consumption.

Why should I begin a catfish processing and packaging enterprise?

Fish are easily prone to spoilage regardless of whether you cooked them or even added preservatives in a bid to preserve them.

But there’s a Goodnews! there is a state in which catfish can be in and they will last longer.

Why is catfish processing business worth it?

Below are just but a few reasons why you should begin a catfish processing business:

  • Processing catfish preserves and prevents them from early spoilage:

Previously, I wrote that every fish can easily spoil after being harvested.

Having your catfish processed and well-packaged is a very common means of preventing fish spoilage, if you can’t afford freezing them until time of use.

  • Processed catfish are in relative high demand:

Ever had a taste of good meal prepared with dried catfish? The taste is indescribably awesome. For this reason, the demand keeps getting higher and higher apparently everyday.

  • Catfish processing business is very lucrative:

Apart from preventing catfish from spoiling, processing and packaging of catfish for sale yields more profit.

Therefore, I can boldly advice those searching for an agribusiness that yields more profit with little capital to explore this aqua option.

So, What do you do? You only just have to purchase catfish from catfish farmers and then process and resale by yourself.

  • Catfish processing requires only just a little capital:

Yes, you heard me. You don’t need a huge capital to launch a catfish processing business (unless you want to venture into something bigger than small).

Anyone can start this aqua-line of business because it only requires a little capital to commence.

Exactly! You could even begin that in a corner of your home, as we can also do for snail rearing

Well, this may depend on the price in your location and your location itself.

smoked-dry catfish

Requirements for a successful catfish smoke-drying business?

Just before we discuss the process of smoking catfish, lets first identify the equipment needed for this agribusiness.

So, what are they?

1. A Smoke-drying oven:

A smoke-drying oven is a chamber, factory or even construct you set for heating or drying of fish.

In the absence of a smoke-drying oven, you could make use of the firewood and gauze mechanism.

2. Genuine supply of catfish:

This trouble comes in when you are not a catfish farmer, however, If you are not, all you need to do is to seek for a reliable supply of catfish.

Your source should not only be reliable, the fish must come at a cheap market price, very important.

So, it’s recommendable to deal with 2 or more catfish supplier, so as to ensure that you never run out of stock.

3. A Complete set of utensils:

Right! You would also need a complete set of utensils like bowls, knives etc.

Hahaha, relax, that’s not a dinner date.

You will only need the utensils at the cleaning stage of the fish.

4. Salt, spices and other preservatives are required:

Just as you may already know, Salt and spices serve as preservatives as well as sweetner.

You will need them while brining (same as dry-salting, but this time, you dip in a solution of salt and water) so that the fish will be tasty.

5. Package Branding

Thi lies on how huge you want to go on this catfish processing and packaging enterprise, you may want a branded package which display the name of your catfish business on it.

6. Your country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval number:

This approval is quite very crucial, especially when operating in a large-scale.

Lets say in Nigeria to begin with, you will have to first acquire the NAFDAC approval number, which in return gives you relevance in the market.

Well, this particular requirement isn’t imposed on those operating on a small-scale processing business.


Processing of catfish from start to finish — The HowTo

Below are few simple steps on how to smoke-dry or process your catfish;

  • Source for the catfish:

You may harvest the catfish from your farm (that is, if you are a catfish farmer) or buy if otherwise.

Afterwards, put them in an enclosure (a container most preferably) and add the appropriate amount of cooking salt –which deactivates the fish.

Furthermore, place a lid over it to stop the fish from escaping.

  • Cleanse the catfish:

As soon as the catfish is completely deactivated, you next line of action is to clean it.

To achieve this, you should;

  • Remove the catfish gills and intestines [and]
  • Wash in clean running water.


  •  Brine the fish:

With the use of a salt solution, brine the catfish so as to:

  • Firm the flesh of the fish and make it less slippery.
  • Sap out old blood and improve the taste of the fish.
  • Preserve the fish by destroying and minimizing bacterial growth.
  • Add additional flavor to the fish.


  • Spice the fish:

Inasmuch as this is said to be an optional process specifically when selling in an open market without branding, this practice makes your own brand taste unique when branding. Spicing can be simply achieved by using food flavours.

  • Dry and smoke:

Immediately your catfish is ready for processing, you are to heat the charcoal in the oven. Well, if you are using a gas or electric oven, all you need to do is to light it up.

Arrange the fish skin side down on an oiled smoker rack, and then ensure the fire is low for the first 2 hours before increasing it.

You would have to keep smoke-drying until the catfish is flaky and cooked thoroughly.

  • Weigh the fish into units:

If your catfish are dry and cooked thoroughly, you would have to weigh them.

Normally, they should weigh 250g, 500g, and 1Kg.

At this stage, you can decide to market the processed fish or pack if you are branding.

  •  Packaging:

For the large-scale catfish processors, you can package and seal them in branded polythene bags or even cellophane.

Why the Sealing? — This is done to prevent germs and dust from getting to the fish.

You can Package according to weights for sales.

How to man a successful catfish smoking enterprise

In order to operate a booming catfish processing and packaging enterprise that will stand for the taste of time, the following are few tips to guide you;

  • Often make use of fresh or live fish.
  • Either use a melange (300g-600g) or the table sizes (600g- and above) for processing.
  • Supply what your target market demands.
  • Never you smoke-dry over too much smoke – doing that will result in the fish having a bitter taste which can lead to high PAH(poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
  • Often cleanse and remove the oil and ashes in the oven.

FAQ on catfish processing and packaging

Must I be a catfish farmer to begin a catfish processing and packaging business?

No, you mustn’t.

All you need to have is the knowledge, skill, and determination and you can hit the jack pot smoking catfish.

Where can I sell my processed catfish?

Quite simple and interesting.

You can supply your processed catfish to to following places/stores;

  • Markets
  • Malls
  • You can export.
  • Supermarkets

Is it possible to smoke-dry fish with little or no smoke?

You only need to avoid using firewoods or sawdust to process your catfish.

In addition, you can acquire a customized smoke/drying machine that could dry 200 fish per batch.

How much can I earn from the catfish processing and packaging business?

Good question! Now, you should know that the profit you are to get will greatly depend on your location.

Below is a research we did in Nigeria to know the average profit one may likely get in this aqua business;

1Kg of catfish is sold for N600.

Processing/Packaging costs less than N100.

That’s a total of N700 processing costs.

Most farmers sell at N900 to supermarkets who in turn sell at N1,000.

With the breakdown above, a Nigerian catfish processing business earns an average of N200 profit per fish.

Lets say you process and sell 400 fish in a week, you should be hitting an average of N320,000 per month. Now, is that not ritual money? *winks

Can I know the average cost of launching a catfish processing and packaging business?

Using our feasibility study from Nigeria, you can begin the business with about N500,000.

This amount will cover;

  • 100+ catfish
  • NAFDAC registration (remember we talked about FDA approval)
  • Business name registration
  • Smoking and sealing machine

So, What should be the correct percentage of salt in a catfish brine water?

You must first make sure the cleaned fish are soaked in a salt solution containing 30% salt. A 100g of salt should be added in 1 litre of clean water to make brine.

How long does a processed fish stay before spoilage?

Well, the shelf life of a processed fish is dependent on how dry it was processed and packaged.

Normally, it can’t stay up to 5 months.

How much time does it take for a catfish to dry?

The length of time to smoke-dry a fish certainly depends on;

  • Thickness of the fish
  • Fish size
  • Smoke-drying mechanism


At last, you now know that you can launch your own catfish processing and packaging enterprise effortlessly, provided you follow this resource.

Whichever way, please ensure you carry out a market survey in your locality so as to identify the cost of fish and the equipment required to man this business effectively.

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