Kodak photo paper and chemicals fade from the market

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Sino Promise Group, the China-based maker of Kodak-branded photographic paper and chemicals for professional and amateur photofinishing, notified customers the company will “no longer be offering” the products, according to correspondence provided to the Dead Pixels Society.

Sino Promise has not responded to requests for comment. Unconfirmed reports from photo labs say the sales team has already been dismissed.

The rumors of Sino Promise Group’s departure from the market – and essentially the end of the venerable Kodak Paper brand – have been circulating for a long time. Ever since Sino Promise bought the Kodak chemicals and paper business from Kodak Alaris in 2020, there were questions about the ongoing viability of the brand. Several long-time customers, speaking anonymously, advised they had quietly been switching to Fujifilm paper since last year over ongoing stock and availability concerns (which, ironically, may have hastened the demise of Kodak paper).

Fujifilm reassures

Fujifilm North America issued a statement to the Dead Pixels Society reaffirming its commitment to the silver-halide products market:

We are not able to speak on behalf of Kodak and the products they offer.

As a leader in imaging, Fujifilm is dedicated to our legacy of photography innovation through our full line of color photographic paper products and chemicals.

Fujifilm’s commitment to the industry is evident in our long-term business strategy; which indicates Imaging Solutions as one of the company’s four key pillars of success. As part of this customer-centric strategy, we remain committed to the development of new products and services across the photo imaging category.

Several North American photo labs and customers have expressed concern about the long-term viability of the wet photo process. Fujifilm recently held a Photo Printing Summit attended by industry leaders, customers, and partners from North America and Europe. The event was held in Tilburg, the home of Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe for four decades. (Our good friend Don Franz of Photo Imaging News provides an excellent recap of the Summit in the April newsletter. Make sure to check it out.)

One of those summit attendees said the event reassured them about the near-term future of photo paper and chemicals.

“With Sino Promise ending its commitment to providing paper and chemicals and with Fuji moving its production to Europe, it is easy to see why there is so much uncertainty amongst retailers and manufacturers in the silver-halide space in the states,” says Simon McCauley
Director of Product Development and Strategic Partnerships, Nations Photo Lab & Artsy Couture. “Indeed, the quest to find viable alternatives to silver halide offerings is more advanced in the states than in Europe.

“Having attended the recent Global Photo Summit in the Netherlands, hosted by Fuji, we saw a full commitment from Fuji regarding silver halide until at least 2034 as well as a strong focus on the environmental and sustainability aspect of silver-halide materials over time. In addition, new automated finishing and packaging solutions that are being launched over the coming 12-24 months by Fuji’s finishing partners further confirm the message that silver halide is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.”

Continuing the decade-long decline of Kodak

Since Eastman Kodak Co. filed for bankruptcy in 2012, which resulted in the spin-off of the Kodak Alaris business. Kodak Alaris, a U.K. company established to fund Kodak’s U.K. pension-fund obligations, has struggled to meet those obligations. When launched, Kodak Alaris was a licensee of Kodak trademarks, providing Kodak Moments consumer imaging products and services, event photography, consumer film, as well as the Alaris document imaging business. Eastman Kodak maintained the film production which, by most accounts, has experienced a resurgence. There are credible reports Kodak is providing film to Fujifilm on a private-label basis.
Sky News recently reported the Britain’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is poised to put Kodak Alaris up for sale. Sky News city editor  writes the PPF, which has owned Kodak Alaris since 2020, “has kicked off talks with bankers about an auction of the company behind the ‘Kodak moments’ made famous by its multinational advertising campaigns.”