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Consumer Confidential: Airline merger, P&G going green, pumpkins a-plenty

September 27, 2010 | 10:09 am

Here's your make-my-day Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Two of the biggest discount airlines are getting hitched. Southwest Airlines will buy AirTran in a deal worth about $1.4 billion. The merger will give Southwest a presence in 37 additional cities, the largest being Atlanta. Not too much overlap between the two carriers because AirTran operates primarily on the East Coast. Southwest also gets new routes to Mexico and the Caribbean. Will this be good for consumers? Sure, if you think bigger is better and that fewer competitors in the market will lead to lower prices and better service (which typically isn't the case). If you have frequent-flier miles for either airline, you'll probably be unaffected, except that soon you'll have more destinations to choose from.

--The world's largest maker of consumer goods is going green in a big way. Procter & Gamble says it will eventually use only renewable energy to power its factories, and only recycled or renewable materials to make and package its products. That's the good news. The bad news is that the company says it could take decades to achieve its goals. P&G makes Pampers diapers, Gillette shavers and scads of other big-name products.

--Looks like the nation's pumpkin-pie nightmare is finally over. A yearlong shortage of canned pumpkin pie filling has ended thanks to a healthy crop this year. Heavy rains in 2009 ruined pumpkin crops and led to hoarding, rationing and pumpkin profiteering -- all signs of a society on the verge of collapse. But our friends at Nestle, who account for (get this) 85% of all canned pumpkin sold in the United States, say cans of the orange goop are arriving at stores even as we speak and that no one should worry about a dearth of pumpkin pie this holiday season. Thank goodness.

-- David Lazarus

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