Dealers of frozen food items have attributed the ongoing scarcity of Titus fish also known as “mackerel” to pollution of European waters.
The dealers, who made this known in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday, said there was no fake Titus fish but the fish was just not in stock.
Mrs Prisca Philips, Managing Director, D Pams Coolroom, said that the difficulty in getting the fish for about eight months, also led to an increase in price by over 50 per cent.
Philips explained that the scarcity of the item had started to have a price increase effect on its other alternative species such as Kampala, Kote and Panla.
“When things were as it should be, we were getting a carton for about N13,000 and sold a kilogramme at N800 but as at yesterday, I and a few others got a carton at N20,000 and will sell at N1,200 per kilogramme.
“The fish is imported from Europe and the water is polluted and unstable. So many of the fishes cannot thrive and the cost of bringing the little they get and distributing it is high.
“It has been like this for eight months now and prices of other types of fishes have also started to increase.
“Kampala fish that used to be about N7,000 has become as high as N16,000,” she said.
Phillips debunked the rumour of fake Titus in circulation, saying what was available was kampala which looked like titus but lacked oil and nutritional value that mackerel provided.
Another dealer, Mr Usman Ojeifo, Managing Director, Kandys Foods, gave credence to the fact that fake Titus was non-existent.
According to him, instead, what is available is its cheaper look-alike, Kampala fish.
“The Kampala fish does not have oil and contrary to popular belief, it is not fake.
“Titus that I used to get for N18,000 per carton is now N25,000 and so, one kilogramme is N1,400,” he said.
Meanwhile, nutritionists have urged citizens to try other classes of fish for protein and omega H3 benefits which titus fish was known for.
Dr Bartholomew Brai, President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria said Titus fish was more beneficial but in its absence, other fishes that served same good source of protein could be consumed.
Brai listed some of the titus replacement fishes to include canned sardines, salmon and herrings.
“Spending more to buy Titus is more beneficial than buying catfish due to the omega 3 content.
“For children, it is advised to properly deboned the fishes so they also benefit from the nutrients,” he said.
Another Nutritionist, Dr Modupe Akinyinka, said that titus was easily prescribed because it was common and affordable.
“Now that it is scarce and has increased in price, so many other variety of fishes exist like the catfish which also has the oil that Titus has,” she said.
NAN reports that Nigerians had continued to buy the fish (titus) in spite of increase in price. (NAN)