Whats the deal with the large existing stocks of discontinued film?

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by PHOTOTONE, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Comments have been made about "certain" deceased manufacturers and the large remaining stocks of finished goods that have been oversupplying the market for some time. I am curious about this concept.

    For example: Did Agfa continue to run its coating lines 24/7 even in the light of declining sales? Did this result in warehouse after warehouse being crammed with product they couldn't sell?

    I wonder if this is the same as Forte? Do they, too, have huge warehouses of product unsold?
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If there are large stocks then they are old. How old is anyones guess and how good again is a guess. See my earlier post on another thread.

    PE
     
  3. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    I bought up a big pile of APX 400 recently which expires some time in 2010 in the unlikely event I haven't used it before then.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    That is 3 years, and considering that it may have been made 2 years ago or more, that is a total of nearly 6 years. Rather long, I suspect and I also suspect that it may have been redated. I have at least one reliable report from someone who scraped off the label on a box of some sheet film (IIRC) and found the same label underneath with a different and much earlier expiration date.

    You have no idea how this was kept after any of these companies went belly up either.

    I suggest that all of you buying Forte, Agfa and other films and papers from the companies that have ceased production, keep them well refrigerated or frozen until use. You might consider this for any discontinued product. This is just to be on the safe side.

    PE
     
  5. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    stock inventory

    Forte haven't got any film or paper in stock as the factory only manufactured for order at least for the last two or thre years or we could say since the take over of the Csurgo group.

    If you find relabelling the date on film than it's do to a dealer.
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    A dealer cannot put on an original label from the factory, and anyhow I didn't say it was Forte. I do know others have posted information that there were large inventories held by several companies. After all, where is all of the old Agfa film coming from?

    PE
     
  7. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    Yes PE, that is a very good question.
     
  8. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    The Agfa APX film is labeled with an expiriy date 5 years after manufacture, and it has excellent keeping qualities, which is why they could do that. This is with storage at room temperature. I am sure it will keep a long time after that if kept cool or frozen. The film was manufactured in fairly large quantity to customer orders before they shut down the coating line. Unfortunately, the customer (distributor) didn't order 120 film, ony 135.

    Amateur color film was dated 3 years after manufacture, and the freshest I have seen is dated 01/2009. It was also manufactured to order before the shutdown.

    Professional color film is dated even shorter (2 years). It was guaranteed to be 1/6 of an f-stop within spec. The final Agfa professional color film (RSX, Optima, XPS) will expire end of this year.
     
  9. Paul.

    Paul. Member

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    Don't take much notice of expiry dates. Think they are conservative to a large extent. Have used B&W film 8years out of date [stored at room temp in plastic tub] and E6 5years out of date[ fridge stored after I baught it but no idea how it was stored before purchase, as baught at camera fair] with exelent results. OK would not use it for anything critical but as fun fodder no problem.

    Films were Fuji, Agfa, Kodak and Ilford in both 120 and 35mm, all were home developed with no problems I could attribute to the films age, the odd underexposed frame being due to metering error on my behalf.

    It of course depends on the price, no one payes top price to take a chance on their film but if the price is right then give it a go.

    Regards Paul.
     
  10. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    It sounds pretty fishy.

    I contacted AgfaPhoto USA on the day AgfaPhoto went into liquidation (Agfa Photo USA was a separate company, by the way, and not a subsidiary) and they told me they NEVER placed an order to AgfaPhoto for B&W film or paper during the company's short life. Distributors never saw the need because of all the inventory out there.

    I have some Agfa APX 400 film that has an October, 2010 expiration date. Given that Agfa APX films are dated 65 months from tim of manufacture - this would have been the last run.

    The really strange thing about those APX boxes are that there is no AgfaPhoto on it - just Agfa.

    I have no idea what amount of film/paper AgfaPhoto produced. But it is extremely expensive to lay off workers in Germany. Maybe they kept producing because, well, that's all they really COULD do.

    Forte may be another matter. Their reasons for ceasing manufacture look kind of odd:
    a) Who was the French B&W film and paper manufacturer that went bankrupt? The original Bergger went bankrupt a dozen years ago and it's Forte that manufactured all their stuff since from the old recipes.
    b) Assuming Agfa was the German manufacturer that they cite as having failed - would this really affect Forte? Agfa paper stocks were bought up immediately...this would have had little effect on their paper demand after a couple months. Sure Forte made film - but they sold a lot more paper.

    I'm sort of inclined to believe that the owners of Forte are really just looking to sell their land off to a redeveloper. Who knows...

    If that IS the case - I doubt you'll see any investment group that wants to continue operations make an offer that the present owners will find attractive. Hope I'm wrong.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

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    Two comments here that may be useful.

    Expiration dates are conservative, but you do take your chances when you are beyond that date. Also, an active company like Kodak or Ilford properly stores inventory at a set temperature and humidity for optimum keeping. If a plant shuts down, who tends to the proper storage of existing inventory?

    If the land that a plant sits on becomes more valuable than the product it produces, then it is more useful to sell the land, especially if the market is collapsing. If repair or upgrading a machine is more expensive than the profit from th product it produces, the machine is run until it can no longer make usable product and then the company shuts down and goes out of business.

    An example might be this, which combines the postulates in the paragraph above.

    During WWII, the US bombed the Hachioji steel mills flat. After the war, they were rebuilt from the ground up with the most modern equipment. Through the war and after, US Steel in Pittsburgh operated with a plant built in the 19th century. As a result, after being rebuilt, Japan's steel industry was able to out produce US Steel and at a lower price. As production fell, the land became more valuable than the plant production, and today as you drive down 2nd avenue in Pittsburgh you see open fields, a new Mellon research center and some park and ride parking lots. The best steel mills in the US were built elsewhere where the land was less expensive and the plant was built to modern standards.

    Kodak is in a similar position, and are selling off buildings or demolishing them to reduce tax burden and make some money. They retain a core of modern production facilities that can be tuned to meet forseeable needs, and they are able to store a reasonable amount of inventory.

    PE
     
  12. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Interesting post. Most of the modern steel-building infrastructure in the USA is down south and has been for a while.

    Ultimately, Kodak and Ilford have been somewhat fortunate in that in both the UK and USA it's easier to downsize your workforce. There are seriously large costs for doing the same in Germany and several Central European countries.

    That isn't to say that the laws in Germany and elsewhere aren't useful (they keep companies from swinging the axe to goose profits in the short-term) - but they seem pretty fatal for operations experiencing a secular decline, such as analog film and paper.

    Ilford cut almost half their workforce when they reorganized under the management buyout. If they had not been able to do so, I doubt they would have made it.

    I don't know if this was a factor for Forte or not. But 150 people sounds like a lot when say, Ilford, is only around 400-500 people.
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The move of the steel industry down south was for cheaper land, lower wages and to rebuild the plants that were so old the only option was to tear them down instead of modernize on-site in Pittsburgh. Your comment an observation of the result which started in the 60s or a bit earlier.

    Kodak takes a huge hit during a layoff. They pay a worker up to 2 years full pay depending on length of service, plus they pay for retraining in a new trade and they continue health benefits for a specified time. In addition, employees are given a place (office space) to prepare resumes for obtaining reemployment for about 90 days. This amounts to millions of dollars.

    PE
     
  14. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I wouldn't be surprised if the cost ultimately ran into the hundreds of millions.

    But, Kodak was able to do this so long as they honored any contractual obligations (or negotiated an acceptable alternative) they had with their workforce.

    In other words, there was no third party group that was going to prevent Kodak from taking this action if they had otherwise met their legal obligations to their workforce.
     
  15. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Yes, a real good question...

    I've got a APX 400 box in 35mm in front of me as I speak which was purchased in a photographic supply store near Boston, MA in November, 2006. Accoridng to the box:

    - It was manufactured in Leverkusen, Germany
    - The film has an expiration date of 11/2010. Using Agfa's 65 month dating procedure (which Agfa USA told me about several years back) this translates to 6/2005
    - The box has a "Agfa-Gevaert AG" label - not AgfaPhoto, which would have been operating that coating line in 6/2005

    There is every indication that this box was meant for the USA market. Instructions are in English (and not the UK variety that uses superfluous u's after o's:wink: )

    AgfaPhoto USA, by the way, no longer exists. It promptly sued the German AgfaPhoto and then went into quiet oblivion. It's gone.

    B&H Photo Video got a shipment of 35mm APX 100 and APX400 in the summer of 2006 but they are now sold out of it and my order placed in November, 2006 has been cancelled by them, since the product is now listed as discontinued.

    I haven't seen any 120 APX 100 since early 2006. And it never re-appeared.
     
  16. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Probably the last 120 size APX 100 is that offered by Maco as Roelli Retro, and sold at a premium price in wooden boxes. Maco may have had to cut and spool it themselves from master rolls. It is my understanding that there is quite a large inventory of this.
     
  17. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Just an update, since my order of 35mm APX100 is at UPS, and will be delivered tomorrow; B&H Photo have this film now:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=1097&is=REG

    If that link does not work, then scroll through their menues. The only AGFA B/W 120 rollfilm they have is APX400. However, I don't particularly like using APX400.

    Anyway, I am getting 14 rolls of the 36 exposure APX100. If anyone is interested in expiration date information on the boxes, I would be happy to provide another post with that information.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  18. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Could you explain this?
     
  19. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Not sure there is much to explain.

    When rumors came up in late-2003 that Agfa was about to discontinue B&W films in 120 sizes I rang up Agfa USA in Ridgefield Park, NJ. During the course of the conversation they put me in touch with a sales engineer who told me that 35mm film is given an expiration date that is 65 months from the time it's boxed. They didn't hesitate to give out the information.

    Slightly off-topic, but...

    Agfa's Healthcare group is still around in Ridgefield Park, NJ (they are part of Agfa-Gevaert). For that matter, AgfaPhoto is still around, just not the film operations. AgfaPhoto USA is history, though it's possible some of their employees work now for AgfaPhoto. Don't forget that AgfaPhoto is still very much in the minilab business.
     
  20. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Oops! I just checked my email and it was Adorama that canceled my order. Both APX 100 and 400 are available in 35mm from B&H. And APX 400 is available in 120 there, as well.

    Sometimes I forget there's a difference between Adorama and B&H. Same brusque customer service and prices identical to the penny...
     
  21. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    You don't start a coating line up for a few hours. If you ever see one of these lines, you wouldn't believe you could keep it running...EC
     
  22. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Now I have a question: Is Maco the main dealer for selling the old left-over Agfa film and paper products? If so, is it like they are re-labeling their packages with new expirations dates?

    What troubles me is the price-setting on the Agfa paper in Japan, which has doubled or trippled. I checked the price for a 100-sheet box of 8x10 FB, and it's almost 200 USD! I know a little while ago, Freestyle was selling it for 60 USD or so, which was still much higher than the older price.

    But if there's no quality control being taken since the time Agfa was gone less than two years ago, what are we really getting? This isn't really helping the new Agfa to come back to the market, I guess... I mean by the time they are ready to prouce and sell their new lineup, they'll have receive a pretty bad reputation.