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Managing conflicting values in functional food consumption: the Malaysian experience

Siti Hasnah Hassan (School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, Malaysia)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




Conflicting values are resolved through a process called value negotiation, but the nature of this process remains largely unexplored. This study aims to explore how consumers undergoing rapid socio‐economic transition manage their conflicting values in making choices concerning functional foods.


Data for this study were collected qualitatively using ethnoconsumerist and grounded‐theory methodologies. In combination, these two approaches enabled the researcher to conduct research at the emic‐level (within culture).


The exploratory model was developed to illustrate how the main three ethnic groups in Malaysia manage their values in terms of functional food consumption. The results showed that participants did not spend much time consciously considering their consumption choices or their values until they were faced with choices or personal values that were inconsistent with cultural, physical and product characteristics. Values are managed by prioritisation and balancing to suit the participant's health needs and situation.

Research limitations/implications

The study's findings are based only on the Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic groups in Malaysia.

Practical implications

The model can be used to help food practitioners, policy‐makers and educators evaluate practices aimed at improving dietary behaviour.


The finding gives new insight into how consumers in developing multicultural society consume functional foods.



Hasnah Hassan, S. (2011), "Managing conflicting values in functional food consumption: the Malaysian experience", British Food Journal, Vol. 113 No. 8, pp. 1045-1059.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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