The Dutch had problems of their own. Portugal was dominating the pepper / spice trade.
During the 16th century, the spice trade was dominated by the Portuguese who used Lisbon as a staple port. Before the Dutch Revolt, Antwerp had played an important role as a distribution center in northern Europe, but after 1591 the Portuguese used an international syndicate of the German Fuggers and Welsers, and Spanish and Italian firms that used Hamburg as its northern staple, to distribute their goods, thereby cutting out Dutch merchants. At the same time, the Portuguese trade system was unable to supply growing demand, in particular the demand for pepper. The demand for spices was relatively inelastic, and the lagging supply of pepper therefore caused a sharp rise in pepper prices at the time.
Likewise, as Portugal had been “united” with the Spanish crown, with which the Dutch Republic was at war, in 1580, the Portuguese Empire became an appropriate target for military incursions. These three factors formed motive for Dutch merchants to enter the intercontinental spice trade themselves at this time. Finally, a number of Dutchmen like Jan Huyghen van Linschoten and Cornelis de Houtman obtained first hand knowledge of the “secret” Portuguese trade routes and practices, thereby providing opportunity. The stage was thus set for Houtman’s four-ship exploratory expedition to Banten, the main pepper port of West Java, where they clashed with both the Portuguese and indigenous Indonesians. Houtman’s expedition then sailed east along the north coast of Java, losing twelve crew to a Javanese attack at Sidayu and killing a local ruler in Madura. Half the crew were lost before the expedition made it back to the Netherlands the following year, but with enough spices to make a considerable profit.
In 1598, an increasing number of new fleets were sent out by competing merchant groups from around the Netherlands. Some fleets were lost, but most were successful, with some voyages producing high profits. In March 1599, a fleet of eight ships under Jacob van Neck was the first Dutch fleet to reach the ‘Spice Islands’ of Maluku. The ships returned to Europe in 1599 and 1600 and the expedition made a 400 percent profit. In 1600, the Dutch joined forces with the local Hituese (near Ambon) in an anti-Portuguese alliance, in return for which the Dutch were given the sole right to purchase spices from Hitu.
[Source wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_East_India_Company ]