Abstract This paper aims to synthesize the perceptions of early career specialists regarding trends in dry bulk shipping flows to 2050, the ship type which generates the second highest total volume of carbon emissions. Specialists' insights have implications for formulating polices to manage global trade and shipping emissions. Established Delphi survey techniques achieved consensus in a novel long-term industrial context amongst international panelists with long-term industrial commitment, highlighting trends in drivers including Arctic ice melt, canal upgrades, piracy and mode splits. Globally, expected doubling of raw materials shipments to Western economies and quadrupling elsewhere will be partially offset by specialists' perceptions of shorter hauls. Moderate annual expected tonnage growth globally compares with rapid annual growth in coal shipments, although more localized and multi-sourcing will shorten global coal hauls. After 2030, ocean routing is expected to slightly shorten global hauls. Climate change brings both Arctic ice melt with shorter expected average hauls from Northeast Asia to Western Europe and longer hauls elsewhere as more droughts and failed states force ship re-routing to avoid piracy. Canal upgrades will offer shorter average hauls. Within the UK rising expected demand for biofuels and intolerance of fossil fuels will reduce shipping demand, inviting investigation of a systems approach to planning.