With an incidence of just 1 in 100 being coeliac, a small town such as St. Albans with a population of approx 58000 persons, will have approx 580 coeliacs. It should be noted that not all potentially coeliac persons will have been diagnosed, so the actual numbers will possibly be lower.
Working on the assumption of 580 coeliac patients, a number of the working population commute daily to work in London, Watford, Borehamwood etc.
St. Albans supermarkets (large and small) include 5 x Tesco, one large Morrison, 3 x Sainsbury, one Waitrose, 4 x M&S Food, an Asda and Iceland. That's potentially 16 outlets of the larger chains available for shopping.
Of the 580 potentially diagnosed coeliacs a number who commute daily to/from work will shop outside St. Albans - say 30%. That then leaves 388 potential gf shoppers divided between 16 outlets of the major chains - giving an average of just 24 shoppers per store.
Not all 24 will shop in a single store. Some will shop in a selection of different stores and in different store formats. Not all 24 will want the same products or the same brands on the same day, or indeed in the same week or month.
Who will be responsible, within the stores, for completing the necessary paperwork for the vouchers and monitoring receipt of payments from the relevant authority? Who, within the autority, will be responsible for processing receipt of vouchers, checking that they have been used by bona fide coeliacs, and checking what has been purchased (and when). The vouchers then need to be passed to the authority's Payments section... and records kept at all stages.
So the problem for the stores must begin to stack up - how many gf pizza bases should they stock? and bread rolls? sliced breads? uncut breads? is there a choice of gf pasta shapes? are they all made of rice? of corn? or a mix of rice and corn? what about flours and bread mixes? is there a choice of flour types? what about Codex wheat for those who can tolerate (and enjoy) it? and so on. What should the store do when excess stock has reached its BB Date? They won't be able to claim from the authorities.
Importantly for the stores - how much space should they allocate and how much stock should they carry? As for the business being repeat business - the assumption must be made that the customer will shop in just one outlet on a regular basis. Research shows that shopping habits mean that many shoppers shop in different stores/outlets, and they vary the days on which they shop etc. etc.
What will be available to coeliacs should the general population move away from gluten free products? Will the market for gluten free shrink? and if it does, will supermarkets offer choice and carry stocks of gf for a smaller market?
In the same town, St. Albans, there are more than 25 pharmacies.
There are other schemes in the UK - such as in Scotland and Cumbria where patients do not need to see their GP to change their prescription - they are simply 'signed up' to a selected pharmacy, and they can visit the pharmacy each month. Pharmacists can order in approved gf goods required etc.