Waitrose is planning to close six stores and remove a level of management in its supermarkets, putting 600 jobs at risk. The upmarket grocer began consulting with staff at the six stores – in Hertford, Staines, Leek, Huntingdon, Cardiff Queen Street and Palmers Green in north London – on Monday ahead of planned closures later this year. The company is also removing the role of department manager in its 350 stores, affecting 180 jobs. (The Guardian, The Times £)

A top executive at Asda’s parent company has pledged greater support to the chain’s recovery efforts after admitting it was slow to respond to the challenge posed by discounters in the UK. Scott Price, chief administrative officer at Walmart International, said the supermarket chain’s shoppers would benefit more from Walmart’s global buying power to drive down costs and therefore prices at the checkout. (Sky News)

Aldi said on Wednesday that it would invest an extra $1.6bn in the US, intensifying a battle of the supermarkets as German rival Lidl enters the market. The discount supermarket, which along with Lidl upended the UK market as they undercut rivals on pricing, is in the middle of a $3bn-plus US expansion to increase the number of stores by 650 to 2,000 over the five years to the end of 2018. (The Financial Times £)

L’Oreal could finally be set to sell The Body Shop after spurning numerous offers over the years. The French make-up giant purchased the ethical skincare brand in 2006 for £652.3million and it is now valuing the business at £852m (The Daily Mail). The Body Shop has been struggling for years amid mounting competition for natural cosmetics and a growing appetite for scientifically based “active” skincare products (The Times £)

Whole Foods shares took a spill in extended trading after the upscale grocer lowered its outlook for the full-year and said it is uncertain how long the fall in food prices will last. (The Financial Times £)

The FT’s Lex column looks at Carlsberg’s annual results yesterday, noting: “A big obstacle is Russia. In 2009 Carlsberg’s largest market accounted for roughly half of earnings. Now, following a number of profit warnings, it accounts for 16%. Euromonitor does not expect Russian beer sales to stop falling until 2019. As long as Mr ’t Hart can continue to grow margins shareholders should be well placed to benefit from a recovery. But the latter is hardly inevitable. At best, it is probable.” (The Financial Times £)

Vanilla prices have more than tripled in the past two years to $450 per kilogramme, due to hoarding by local middlemen and crop collectors in Madagascar, the world’s largest producer. The surging price has been exacerbated as an increasing number of large food companies have pledged to use “natural” flavourings made from food sources. (The Financial Times £)

The near-complete genome of quinoa was unveiled on Wednesday by scientists who say the grain cultivated centuries ago by Incas in the Andes could help feed a hungry world. (The Guardian)