The government has reportedly put forward four options to ban below-cost selling of alcohol and is planning to take the proposals to a public consultation within weeks. When the coalition pledged to ban below-cost alcohol sales in June, it failed to define what it meant by cost. However, The Grocer, a sister publication to M&C Report has learned that the Home Office has told industry lobbyists it has hit upon four possible options. The first, and easiest, option would be to define cost as simply duty and VAT. This is the definition used by leading supermarket chains, including Morrisons. However, many in the industry have objected to the definition - as it will only affect the deepest discounts and attributes no cost to the product itself. The second option is to add some form of cost for the production, distribution and marketing of the product. A third option is to ban a sale below the cost of the invoice, a practice adopted in Spain and France. The fourth option is to allow retailers to work together on fair pricing, without fear of prosecution under competition law. However, a minimum cost per unit has been ruled out, although this is still expected to get the green light in Scotland. The four options will be presented in a consultation document in early August, as part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. The consultation period will last six weeks because the government wants the Bill introduced in the autumn.