Our objective was to describe, for the first time in an English-speaking Caribbean country, the contribution of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) to nutrients linked to non-communicable disease. Using a cross-sectional study design, dietary data were collected from two non-consecutive 24-h dietary recalls. Recorded food items were then classified according to their degree of processing by the NOVA system. The present study took place in Barbados (2012–13). A representative population-based sample of 364 adult Barbadians (161 males and 203 females) aged 25–64 years participated in the study. UPFs represented 40⋅5 % (838 kcal/d; 95 % CI 791, 885) of mean energy intake. Sugar-sweetened beverages made the largest contribution to energy within the UPF category. Younger persons (25–44 years) consumed a significantly higher proportion of calories from UPF (NOVA group 4) compared with older persons (45–64 years). The mean energy shares of UPF ranged from 22⋅0 to 58⋅9 % for those in the lowest tertile to highest tertile. Within each tertile, the energy contribution was significantly higher in the younger age group (25–44 years) compared with the older (45–64 years). One-quarter of persons consume ≥50 % of their daily calories from UPF, this being significantly higher in younger persons. The ultra-processed diet fraction contained about six times the mean of free sugars and about 0⋅8 times the dietary fibre of the non-ultra-processed fraction (NOVA groups 1–3). Targeted interventions to decrease the consumption of UPF especially in younger persons is thus of high priority to improve the diet quality of Barbadians.