The post-Sino Promise future of Kodak chemistry is beginning to become clearer with a new entity, Michigan-based Photo Systems, announcing a new deal to manufacture Kodak-branded photo chemicals, including RA-4 (colour film) and C41 (colour paper), black and white and
There is less certainty regarding the resumption of supply of Kodak photographic paper.
Photo Systems has been a contract manufacturer to Kodak Alaris and then Sino Promise, and has a 50-year heritage in photographic chemical manufacturing. Worldwide supply from Photo Systems will commence early in 2024, with manufacture based in the US.
According to a report in a Detroit-based business website, Sino Promise discontinued Kodak Professional Photographic Chemicals back in April this year, with Photo Systems stepping in as the new brand licensee in September.
‘Analog photography and analog photo chemicals have always been the focus of (our company),’ CEO of Photo Systems, Alan Fischer, is quoted as saying in the article. ‘We were very concerned that a vital link to analog photography would be lost. We are pleased to become the licensee of Eastman Kodak and carry on the more than 150-year tradition of Kodak Professional Photographic Chemicals.
‘We will continue to use our many years of experience in photographic chemical manufacturing, as well as the specific experience in manufacturing Kodak Professional Photographic Chemicals we have garnered over the past four years, to deliver the quality and reliability that consumers have come to expect.’
(‘As far as supply chain reliability is concerned, Sino Promise set a very low bar, particularly through 2023.)
Photo Systems will manufacture chemicals for black and white, C41, E6, and RA4 processes. There will be a staged introduction, with B&W first cab off the rank as early as January, followed by C41 colour chemicals, E6, and RA4 by the end of the third quarter.
Photo Systems already offers a full array of film and paper photoprocessing chemicals under the Unicolor brand. It also manufactures chemicals for graphic arts, X-ray and micrographics.
‘We still have a bit of Kodak chemistry but we will run out at some point,’ APS managing director Shane Martin told Inside Imaging. He said that they hoped to have fresh stocks of Kodak-branded C41 and RA4 chemicals ‘by mid next year if everything goes right.’
He mentioned another US manufacturer, White Mountain, as a likely outsourced supplier of colour chemistry to Photo Systems.
As mentioned, the ongoing viability of the Kodak paper business is less certain, although Shane Martin noted that APS has adequate stock in Australia to last for the next six months.
He said the supply chain was ‘problematic’. Until Sino Promise’s abrupt demise, bulk rolls of paper were manufactured in Europe by Felix Schoeller, shipped to the US for coating, then off to China for slitting into customer rolls.
He said that he wasn’t certain that CareStream, which has run the Colorado-based coating line for Kodak paper, was interested in continuing the business.
‘CareStream has stopped the line, but there are other potential sources which make and coat paper.
‘There’s no reason Fuji couldn’t make Kodak paper,’ he noted. (Fujifilm already manufactures some colour negative films for Kodak.)
He said APS had a plan in place if Eastman Kodak doesn’t re-commence production.
‘We are hoping to have product locked in for a number of years in the future. Hopefully Kodak-branded,’ he said.