In fact, it was the rise of prices of pepper and other products that put greater impetus to find new routes to India. Slightly before this time, Portugal was a rising power and had aspired to control the trade routes to India, with black pepper being one of their main interests. The trip around Africa, although yielding many new discoveries, was difficult and long. Nearly 30% of the cargo brought back from India was lost. European powers wanted to avoid having to have their trade to the east controlled by middlemen and, so long as prices were very high, then the consumer market would be limited. This prompted the eventual discovery of the New World, which was initially thought by Christopher Columbus to be a new route to India rather than a new continent all together.
The Dutch were able to gain control of the pepper trade by the 17th century, creating strong links to India, Ceylon, Java, and other areas in southeast Asia. The rising power of the British East India Company in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the British Empire's fortunes increased. During this time, spices and pepper in particular increasing began to be under a near monopoly of control by British traders. During the time of the Dutch and British control of the spice and pepper trade, it was by then that black pepper, once again, became common and prices depreciated considerably. By this time, middle class consumers were able to reasonably afford it and it was during the 17 and 18th centuries that pepper began to emerge as a daily type of spice used to season meat mainly.
In the 20th century, with decolonization and the demise of major holding companies such as the East India Company, the trade of black pepper is once again in the hands of the countries that grow it. Today, Vietnam is the leading exporter of black pepper, accounting for about 34-35% of the total in trade of black pepper. Because of its wide spread use that goes back to the Classical Period, when regions from Japan to Britain had developed tastes for black pepper, it has become the most common spice today.