SEJONG, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- The cost of eating out in South Korea rose to the highest level in nearly two years in January as a hike in ingredients and labor expenses drove up meal prices, data showed Saturday.
The cost of meals sold at local restaurants and cafeterias increased 2.8 percent in January compared with a year earlier, the highest since February 2016, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
Prices of cafeteria and boxed meals advanced 3.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, last month, data noted.
Industry officials say a rise in labor costs and ingredient prices are part of the factors behind the price hike as the minimum wage was lifted by 16.4 percent to 7,530 won (US$7.04) last month, marking the biggest jump in about two decades.
To address concerns over rising food prices, the government said last week it will inspect fried chicken, hamburger and other food franchises to prevent excessive price hikes.