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In The Hunger Games, survival in arena depends on how many sponsors (who are rich) a contender is able to woo because it has been stressed so many times that supplies are expensive.

I can understand that advanced medicines which can quickly heal burns and reverse the effect of bites of a genetically-engineered combat wasp can be super expensive. But, why water and loaf of bread has to be expensive?

Has this to do with excessive taxation of the Capital or hovercraft (which drops supplies with parachute) service charge or game's monetization? I want proper citation.

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    The method of getting the supplies in is quite expensive. The wiki mentions that supplies become more expensive as the games go on. It's likely they're made so expensive just because it will stop loads of supplies being sent in. It'd be a bit more boring if anyone could get anything sent in and escape peril because of it.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 10, 2018 at 12:28
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    The arena is pretty well-stocked with food as it is, but it relies on either maintaining control of the starting area (the Cornucopia in the first book), or knowing how to hunt and/or forage for food yourself. Both of these are relevant in the first book/movie. Given that the Hunger Games are essentially entertainment for the Capitol, the Gamemakers wouldn't want potential reasons for conflict between Tributes removed by sending in large quantities of cheap bread and water. Apr 10, 2018 at 13:18
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    For the same reason Superbowl ads are?
    – Ummdustry
    Apr 10, 2018 at 13:30
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    Very astute observation @Ummdustry, considering any recognizably branded "supplies" that get delivered to contestants during the games would effectively be product placement for the viewing public. I imagine whoever collects this money could charge quite a premium even for the possibility of having your product associated with the winner (whoever that may end up being...)
    – Steve-O
    Apr 10, 2018 at 13:41

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It's a set price designed to control

The price of sponsor items is set by a committee or group (likely connected to the gamemakers). Given that it's an element of 'control' as well as getting citizens involved and invested in the outcome of the games, it's a tightly controlled and regulated element.

Historically, the idea of having sponsor items was floated by Coriolanus and instilled in the 10th Annual Hunger Games:

Reflecting on the classroom discussion with Dr. Gaul and the electricity in the audience when they’d fed the starving tributes at the zoo, he focused on the food. For the first time, sponsors would be able to buy items — a piece of bread, a chunk of cheese — to be delivered by drone to a specific tribute. A panel would be established to review the nature and value of each item. A sponsor would have to be a Capitol citizen in good standing who was not directly related to the Games.

However, upon actualisation at the subsequent games, we see donorships go so high that tributes could be fed for weeks with ease. Negating its usefulness:

...While the new barrage of donations hitting his communicuff was affirming, he didn’t know how it would help. He could probably feed her for weeks on what he already had.

The process has since evolved and become improved, and fine-tined, but still maintains its element of 'control' and adding citizen interest in the Hunger Games.

Consider too that the betting and donations were designed to fund the Hunger Games as well:

When it came to his idea of betting, he suggested a second panel to create a venue that would allow Capitol citizens to officially wager on the victor, establish the odds, and oversee the payments to the winners. Proceeds from either program would be funneled toward the costs of the Games, making them essentially free for the government of Panem.

So theoretically, the more you charge, the more income you'll have. We can see how different and far advanced the arenas for each Hunger Games have become.

Additionally, the wealth of the Capitol and its citizens has also increased greatly. It's not a wonder that the prices are high to match.

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