Potato market chronicle November 2023 (2)

meeting : David Storper, jeune courtier de la Maison Mendel

Potato market chronicle November 2023 (2)

David Storper has taken over from his father Jean-Marc Storper at the head of Maison Mendel, accompanied by his two team-mates. The young manager, who is diversifying his business, began his training as a sworn broker.

He had joined his father’s potato brokerage company, Jean-Marc Storper aka “Marco”, 3 years earlier, when the latter was struck down by an illness that claimed his life in less than a year, on February 11. David Storper, 29, did not hesitate to take up the family torch, the fourth generation of a family of brokers based in Nîmes, who have moved from international grain transactions to potatoes and condiments. We caught up with France’s youngest potato broker as he walked the aisles of Madrid’s Fruit Attraction trade show with his sales manager Sylvie Pomarès, who works the Iberian market.

They are supported by Ana, who has worked at Maison Mendel for over 20 years. “We generate 70% of our sales on the domestic market and almost 30% on export, with Spain as our main partner”, explains David Storper.

The import-export business is an important part of the brokerage’s work, as France is a major producer and consumer country. The broker has a key role to play between distant parties who don’t necessarily know each other well. Knowledge and trust are his two watchwords: he must always be well informed about the market and its customers, and build and maintain relationships of trust with buyers and sellers alike. “We buy in Spain in June and July, from large structures in the south and in the Rioja region.

Then we sell French products to Spaniards for the rest of the year. Our added value is to bring in new ideas, new outlets, we act as intermediaries between operators who have lost touch but still need to work together,” explains David Storper.

He adds that the broker can intervene effectively as soon as there’s an imbalance somewhere, whether one of the parties is looking to buy or sell. “We work with a fixed commission on the tonnage sold,” he explains. Based in the Gard region, Maison Mendel is naturally close to the early potato crops of the Camargue, Marmande and Charentes regions. It also handles transport, although it’s the partners who give the orders.

In season, the team works all over France, from Beauce to the North, via Normandy and Brittany. Generally speaking, David Storper sees industry as a threat to the fresh produce market. “Fortunately, our business is diversified and we’re maintaining the volumes we work with,” he points out.

In particular, he is looking after the onion business, which used to account for just 1% of sales, but is now approaching 10%. He is also developing the organic side of the business, which is currently suffering and which he hopes will take off again in a healthier market. David Storper adds: “Maison Mendel monitors each deal from A to Z, from contract execution to payment.

We remain vigilant about the customer’s financial soundness, and if necessary, we ask for pre-payments.” A member of the SNCPT and involved in the preparation of quotations sent to the CNIPT every week, David Storper has announced that he is starting his training to become a sworn broker, as his father was. “Our values are trust, respect for all parties and confidentiality. They can only be established through long-term work,” he asserts.