The objective of this study was to examine the factors influencing smallholder producers’ potential to sell cattle and identify marketing opportunities for sustainable beef production in South Africa. A total of 95 structured questionnaires was administered to the Ncorha and Gxwalibomvu communities in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Average cattle herd size per household was higher (P < 0.05) in Ncorha (13.7 ± 1.9) than in Gxwalibomvu (11.3 ± 1.9). The logit model showed that households with few members, young farmers, Christians, large cattle herds, low income levels and access to extension services had high potential to sell cattle compared with other households (P < 0.05). Beef branding (∼40% of respondents from each community), feedlotting (∼30%), group marketing (∼25%) and forward contracting (>5%) were mentioned as potential strategies for improving commercial marketing of cattle in the studied areas. Most producers (70%) indicated their potential and willingness to participate in developing a natural pasture-fed beef brand. Overall, commercial marketing of beef cattle raised on communally owned natural pastures in the surveyed areas in South Africa was largely determined by farmer’s demographic characteristics, cattle herd size and access to extension services with branding and feedlotting as the major opportunities for improving sales.