(Aug. 21, 7:15 p.m.) Eric Schwartz, vice president of strategic planning for SK Foods, Monterey, Calif., and a former Dole executive with an extensive background in the fresh produce industry, has been promoted to chief operations officer of SK Foods, effective Aug. 18.

Schwartz resigned as president of Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., Monterey, in mid-March, and then joined SK Foods April 14. As COO, he replaces Alan Huey, who took the position on an interim basis April 2007, when the company announced its merger with Salyer American Fresh Foods Inc., Salinas, Calif., according to Lisa Crist, spokeswoman.

Schwartz said one of the first major projects that he is involved with is the launching of a new frozen food business for the company that should be operational by early May 2009.

The company acquired an empty 55,000-square-foot building that is being retrofitted to produce individually quick frozen vegetables, Schwartz said.

Schwartz would not address the current federal investigation of SK Foods’ president and chief executive officer, Scott Salyer, of alleged bribery charges. Crist, however, said the company is still conducting an internal investigation.

“We are ensuring that our executive team is strategically aligned to successfully support each facet of the business,” she said. “Over the next few months, we will report additional changes in our management structure. We are confident that, through this process, the SK Foods group of companies will become stronger and continue to prosper in today’s challenging business climate.”