If you were going to craft an advertising pitch, it probably wouldn’t be: “Obsolete products for sale! Get your obsolete products!” So it’s no surprise that Signify has revealed that sales of UV-C wares are slumping, given that earlier this year the company declared part of the line as "obsolete" under an accounting definition regarding inventory that brings in revenue.
Back in 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Signify mobilized a major ramp-up of UV-C lighting products, launching 12 families aimed at eradicating the SARS-CoV-2 virus on air, surfaces, and objects. UV-C had been proven to deactivate the virus at specific dosage.
But in the ensuing two years, there were indications that sales were slow. Signify CEO Eric Rondolat made his strongest acknowledgment of that in early August, when on a second-quarter financial results call he told analysts that the company had declared surface-oriented disinfection products as "obsolete".
The obsolescence was later explained as an accounting move — a write-off — reflecting poor demand for the surface products, as it became clear that COVID-19 spreads primarily through air rather than via surfaces. But Signify emphasized at the time that it was not discontinuing the surface products. Rather, it would continue to sell them, even though they were termed obsolete.
On Signify's third-quarter results call two weeks ago, Rondolat made no mention of how well or poorly the surface disinfection products are selling. The subject was notably missing from the conversation, given the prominence it had only three months earlier.
So LEDs Magazine asked for an update.
“We continue to see reduced demand for specific surface ranges,” a spokesperson replied. “This reflects the demand shift towards upper-air disinfection devices as knowledge of the COVID-19 virus progressed and it became clearer that most transmission is through the air.”
It seems also that hopes might be fading for the line in general, be it air, surface, or object disinfection.
“With the pandemic impact decreasing in many geographies, demand for air disinfection solutions has also declined,” the spokesperson said.
Still, “we have not discontinued any UV-C lines,” she added.
Although Signify has since 2020 had some notable deployments with UV-C fixtures, such as at an Edeka Clausen supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, at a London rugby stadium and others, it seems as though the products that it positioned for a big role in alleviating the COVID health crisis are on the wane.
Editor's note: LEDs Magazine has seen a reduction in UV-C-related announcements within the lighting sector but continued industry debate and discussion about far-UV as well as visible-light disinfection. Stay tuned for more on those topics in the coming months.
MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).
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