The volume of imports and exports at Portland’s International Marine Terminal is up 31 percent in the first seven months of 2022 compared to the same time period last year. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Portland’s International Marine Terminal is headed for another record-breaking year – without the shipping-container congestion and delays that have plagued larger ports on the East and West coasts.

The volume of shipping containers crossing the docks at the terminal has increased by more than 20 percent a year on average since the state started investing tens of millions of dollars to modernize and expand the terminal more than a decade ago.

Last year, the terminal saw a 32 percent increase in cargo for an annual record of 38,174 shipping containers. So far this year, the port is on track to surpass that.

Imports and exports are up another 31 percent for the first seven months of 2022, compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Maine Port Authority. Andrew Haines, executive vice president of Eimskip, the port’s only container company, said the company expects the 30 percent figure to hold through the rest of the year.

“We continue to see growth in both directions, both inbound and outbound from Portland,” he said. “There is no indication of this slowing down.”

Matthew Burns, executive director of Maine Port Authority, said the numbers have surpassed expectations.


Eimskip has said it intends to grow trade further by increasing the size of vessels that operate on its Transatlantic Green Line service. The company’s ships call on Portland once a week, the end of a line that includes stops in Atlantic Canada and Iceland, and connections to northern Europe and Asia.

More than 42,200 shipping containers have come through Portland in the last 12 months, roughly six times the number that came through the port in 2013, when Eimskip opened its headquarters in Portland. 

That’s over 30 percent more than the 32,376 containers that came through the terminal in the previous 12 months. The global annual average is 5 percent growth.

Burns said the traffic at the terminal breaks down to 65 percent imports and 35 percent exports.

As of 2021, frozen fish was by far the most imported material by value, but top imports also included machinery, apparel, beverages, minerals and metals.

Ammunition cartridges, prepared fruits and vegetables, wooden medical instruments, industrial and electric machinery, and pulp and paperboard were some of the most valuable exports.


While business has been booming in Maine, other ports have struggled with delays and clogged channels.

The Port of New York and New Jersey recently announced new tariffs related to empty containers that sit around for long periods of time in its battle to decrease container congestion. 

Like other ports, the Port of New York and New Jersey has processed record volumes of imported containers during the pandemic and has seen these containers sit longer at the terminals. They’ve clogged land capacity and slowed down port productivity, CNBC reported, causing more vessels to wait at anchor. 

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest on the East Coast and third-largest in the nation. 

The smaller size of the Portland terminal has made for faster turnaround.

“We are not dealing with the same kind of congestion issues you’re hearing about in some of the larger ports,” Burns said. “We simply don’t have that problem.”


Large ports like New York/New Jersey and Los Angeles/Long Beach are working with a tremendous amount of truck and rail volume, creating a lot of opportunity for congestion, Burns said. It doesn’t take much to back things up, so supply chain and labor issues have an immediate impact and congestion can take a long time to clear.

Portland’s International Marine Terminal handles a fraction of the volume seen at larger ports, allowing traffic to run smoother, Burns said. Eimskip also operates its own containers and trailers, so it can turn around shipments quickly and dependably, drawing in more business from clients getting blocked at those bigger container ports.

Haines said the company’s niche market and network of Maine-based trucking companies have also contributed to Eimskip’s continued growth.

So if it looks like there are more containers sitting at the terminal, there are. But that’s a good thing, Burns said. It’s because the company is growing.

“There’s more volume going in and out of the terminal, so there’s more of it that’s being used,” he said.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: