AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market  here ended 2010 as the most popular supermarket chain in the U.S. — at least on Facebook.
With 428,520 people saying they "like" the organic and natural specialist, as of Dec. 31, 2010, Whole Foods was well ahead of the No. 2 supermarket chain, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway , which has 140,551 "likes."
Both companies make extensive use of the online social network. Whole Foods tends to offer recipe ideas and educational information, while Safeway leans more toward online contests and promotions.
Also among the most liked, according to SN's informal survey conducted by searching for supermarket names on Facebook: Wegmans Food Markets , with 89,500 likes; Supervalu -owned Albertsons, with 53,883; Delhaize's Food Lion , with 48,791; Kroger Co. , with 43,755; Price Chopper  of Schenectady, N.Y., with 41,588; Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market , with 37,300; Harris Teeter , with 27,500; Hy-Vee , with 26,186; and Giant Eagle , with 23,476.