Consumer Confidential: Starbucks stimulus, auto sales, Velveeta recall


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Here’s your you-can’t-make-me Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Bank of Starbucks? The world’s largest coffee-shop operator will start collecting donations online and at some of its cafes to spur job creation among community businesses. Starbucks will accept money beginning Nov. 1 to help fund loans to small businesses. The company is working with Opportunity Finance Network, which represents institutions that provide credit to community businesses, to form ‘Create Jobs for USA.’ In August, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked fellow CEOs and business leaders to boycott donating to U.S. political campaigns to encourage leaders to solve the nation’s growing budget deficit. Looks like the company is growing impatient with Washington’s pace of reform.


--One business that seems to be doing just fine is car-making. General Motors’ sales rose 20% compared with last September, led by a 34% rise in sales of full-size pickups and SUVs. Chrysler Group’s overall sales rose 27%. The growth built on a healthy performance in August, when new models, cheaper financing and pent-up demand lifted the industry after several disappointing months. September truck sales benefited from falling gas prices, a need to replace aging fleets, and promotions to clear out older models from showrooms. Sales of the Chevrolet Cruze compact, while still strong at just over 18,000, fell below 20,000 last month for the first time since March. That’s a sign that Honda and Toyota have replenished dealer lots since tsunami-related disruptions.

--Heads up: The ‘possible presence of small, thin wire bristle pieces’ has led Kraft Foods Global to announce a voluntary recall of approximately 137,000 cases of its Velveeta Shells & Cheese and Velveeta Rotini & Cheese products distributed in the United States. According to a company statement, no injuries have been reported and there have been no consumer complaints. Among the products being recalled are Velveeta Shells & Cheese Original Microwaveable Cups, Velveeta Shells & Cheese Original Four Pack Microwaveable Cups and Velveeta Shells & Cheese Made with 2% Milk Microwaveable Cups. If you bought any of these, return them to the store for a refund or exchange.

-- David Lazarus