The news just gets worse and worse for the corporate processed food makers.

Earlier this week, Target Corp., a major retailer of food, clothing, and such served notice on the factory-food producers to take their processed stuff and, well, stuff it.

In a radical move, according to The Wall Street Journal, “Representatives from Campbell Soup Co., General Mills Inc., Kelloggs Co.  and others were told that the retailer doesn’t want to put as much money and effort into promoting some of their products as it did in the past…Target said it wants to do less with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Corn Flakes and more with granola and yogurt.” In effect, Target was saying to the big producers, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”

This all follows up on ongoing reports from the big processed food producers of deteriorating financial results.

Part of the reason Target’s move is so significant is that it foretells cracks in the corporate retailer practice of using “slotting fees,” which are large charges to food producers just to get prime shelf space on retailer shelves. Target’s new message is that slotting fees are a loser’s game, because they leave the marketplace out of the decision-making process of retailer food offerings. Slotting fees have represented easy revenue for food retailers and easy sales for corporate producers.

But places like Target are coming to realize they are losing customers who no longer want Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The slotting fees are no good without the customers to buy the junk.

What’s also clear is that the shift away from the processed food is accelerating. Why? Because we are seeing a blizzard of information explaining to consumers why the processed stuff is bad and nutrient-dense food from sustainable producers is healthy.

Thousands of ordinary consumers are participating in online programs like Real Food and Unprocessed Food “challenges” that encourage long-time Cinnamon Toast Crunch eaters to avoid such junk altogether. And increasingly, these people are buying their food via CSAs, farmers markets, and food clubs–completely outside the corporate retailer system.

Plus, new books keep coming out with advice and background about the corrupt nature of the factory food system, and advice about eating healthy food. One recent book about the former is The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janisse Ray. One of the most chilling sections is her history of how big chemical companies decided to buy up all the small seed producers during the 1980s and 1990s, as a way to gain control of the food system.

Another new book, about eating healthy comes from Kelly Moeggenborg, also known as Kelly the Kitchen Kop. The book, Real Food for Rookies, explains the health dangers that come from the processed food, and how nutrient-dense foods help counter the problems. Equally useful are her many ideas for how consumers on tight food budgets can substitute real food for junk, for the same money.

To the corporate producers, these and dozens of other books and documentaries are subverting Americans about the power of food to help create good health. The problem the big food producers face is they’ve not really had to compete seriously for customers in the “food-is-food-is-food” environment that has pervaded our culture in the post-World-War-II era. All that is changing rapidly, and the corporate  junk food producers don’t really know what to do.